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Researchers Make Graphene From Girl Scout Cookies 129

Posted by timothy
from the why-the-aliens-need-our-resources dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Last year we learned that the miracle material graphene could be made from common table sugar, and now researchers at Rice University have taken the discovery one step further by literally baking it from a box of girl scout cookies. A group of graduate students led by chemist James Tour recently teamed up with Houston Girl Scout troop 25080 to perform the feat using a single box of Trefoil cookies — which could potentially yield $15 billion worth of graphene."
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Researchers Make Graphene From Girl Scout Cookies

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  • Re:Supply and demand (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tmosley (996283) on Friday August 12, 2011 @08:57AM (#37067188)
    The most exalted rulers of France used to dine on aluminum tableware, as aluminum was more valuable than gold. Then we discovered how to electrolytically extract it from sand. Now we package sugar water in it. The first time they made aluminum that way, they got super rich as they sold just under the amount it was going for, and the price just kept going down from there.
  • Re:Supply and demand (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Friday August 12, 2011 @09:15AM (#37067322)

    "calculated that at the then-commercial rate for pristine graphene -- $250 for a two-inch square -- a box of traditional shortbread Girl Scout Cookies could turn a $15 billion profit."

    So it definitely doesn't cost more to make than it's worth. They've already done the calculation and the $15bil was just the profit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 12, 2011 @09:26AM (#37067450)

    There is a cost for purity.

    I can buy sugar at grocery store prices. I can go to the pharmacy and spend a bit more for the same glucose molecules. I can go to Fischer and pay a dear price for the same glucose molecules. The difference is not only the price, but what I get with my glucose.

    At the store I get glucose and a whole lot more. At concentrations suitable for food production, the "whole lot more" isn't very important. At the pharmacy, I'm starting to get into the ~99% glucose range. That's much better for types of cooking where purity becomes important. For example, one could easily do spun sugar or sugar sculpture from pharmacy sugar, but it would be very difficult (if not impossible) to do it from regular baking sugar. At the labroatory supply, I can buy 99.997% pure glucose. It may be overkill for some experiments; but, it allows me to not be so concerned with whether the effects I see are tied to the procedure or the impurity of the reagents.

    I'll bet that girl scout graphene is more about detecting traces of graphene in a very dirty sample. Even if there were a girl scout graphene plant, it would likely cost quite a bit to isolate and purify the graphene in ways that doesn't include other carbon molecules, residues of solvents, etc.

    In other words, the price of graphene might drop; but, there's a lot more to "making" graphene than finding it in a residue.

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