GRAPHENSTONE: Nanotechnology’s role in revolutionising natural building materials

November 2020

GRAPHENSTONE: Nanotechnology’s role in revolutionising natural building materials
Graphenstone is a natural paints company which fuses graphene nanotechnology with natural lime and silicate, to offer a product that boasts both the ecological advantages of natural materials, and the strength of a synthetic. It represents an important innovation which seeks to bridge the gap between natural building principles and the strength of modernity.
The advantages of natural building are rarely seen in new builds today. Gone are the days when our health and planet took precedence, prioritising the orientation of our buildings, harnessing of local climate and site conditions, emphasis of natural ventilation through design, and the use of abundantly available and renewable materials. These choices fundamentally reduced operational costs and the environmental impact of our buildings, without sacrificing comfort. They produced healthy living environments with incredibly high indoor air quality. Over the last century however, we’ve seen a steady decline of their use, in favour of technological methods to produce the same effects. The shortsightedness of prioritising economy in the near term has been central to this.

Natural building tends to rely on human expertise and labour, rather than automated technologies which lend themselves to synthetic building materials, and are cheaper to employ in the short term.
By turning to nature’s synthetic counterparts, we have not only lost the advantages of natural materials, but made a quite toxic compromise. Very few modern building materials are renewable.

Many synthetic indoor materials like adhesives, plastics and acrylics all emit high levels of petrochemicals, carbon dioxide and carcinogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These pollutants cause indoor air to often be 2-5x more polluted than outdoor air. Take paints, for example. Due to the prevalence of acrylic trade paints, painter-decorators are 40% more likely to contract lung cancer. That’s 40% more likely than the national average, accounting for smokers,
workers in heavy combustive industry, etc. This is because after painting a room, VOC levels increase by up to 1000 times, making paints the second largest emitter of VOCs after cars themselves. And it isn’t just the decorator who is put at risk. Paints only emit half of their VOCs in the first year, meaning you, your friends and your children are breathing in that same toxicity over time.
It’s not only poisonous fumes that are putting you at risk. A common misconception is that acrylic paints are more durable than their natural rivals. It’s literally a plastic film painted onto your wall,
which may have better abrasive durability and washability, but it seals in unwanted moisture.

That’s why you so often see paint bubble up and peel away from the wall, because moisture behind the paint tries to evaporate and pushed it away from the substrate. That moisture leads to fungal growth; those dark spots of mould seen in the corners of bathrooms and kitchens. This is incredibly damaging to human health, as it’s so detrimental to indoor air quality.
There are natural paints on the market today, which are not only non-toxic, but actively clean the air you breathe. Graphenstone paints are 100% natural, our whites being pure lime and our colours a lime-silicate blend. The active lime component in our paint is calcium hydroxide, which when painted, goes through the active lime-cycle of curing into calcium carbonate (limestone) on your wall. It does this by absorbing carbon dioxide. Every 15L pot of Graphenstone on your wall absorbs 4.8kg of CO2. This means every 3 pots, over the course of a year, absorb as much CO2 as a 250kg tree. The lime cycle is a powerful tool for air purification, making Graphenstone paints
as powerful as greenery inside your home. Our paints are also completely odourless, meaning you can occupy a room immediately - no need to air out those poisonous fumes. Being lime based, Graphenstone paints are highly alkaline with a pH of 12, meaning nothing can grow on them. They are naturally proofed to fungal growth and those dark spots of mould so damaging to our health.

Critically, lime is also a porous, breathable material. In a damp room, that moisture will simply pass through the paint and evaporate directly into the room itself. So why do we continue to spec acrylic trade paints, despite being fully aware of their toxicity? If
the lime base of our paints is so exceptional, why is it that lime paints haven’t been more successful to date? It comes back to that durability argument. In short, it’s because lime is brittle.
If you paint a sheet of paper in a pure lime paint and scrunch it up over your desk, your desk will be covered in paint dust. But paint a sheet of paper in Graphenstone (also pure lime), you can
scrunch that paper up, roll it, fold it in half - no dust. This is due to our unique nanotechnology twist, bridging the gap between natural materials and the strength expected from modern building

Our paints incorporate the pure carbon nanotechnology graphene. Graphene was discovered at the University of Manchester in 2004, and its discoverers won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010.
They had discovered something with the most remarkable physical properties: 200x stronger than structural steel, 1000x more electrically conductive than copper, but still as flexible as paper. It was discovered by removing molecular levels of graphite until you are left with just one atom thick graphene. This means it can effectively coat other materials, or better yet be woven into their
molecular structure. Hypothetically, if you had a large enough spiderweb and coated it in graphene, its tensile strength would be enough to catch a falling plane. That’s how remarkable a
piece of nanotechnology graphene is, and it’s fused with the mineral base of all Graphenstone paints. It completely revolutionises the physical profile of age-old building materials like lime.
Graphenstone offers the first Class 1 strength natural paints in history. Graphene also brings a unique level of elasticity and flexibility to our paints ensuring they don’t crack, even with slight
building expansion and contraction. In addition it ensures significantly improved coverage, meaning that in real terms per m2, Graphenstone is cheaper than any other mineral paint on the market today.

For too long we have made conscious decisions to poison ourselves and our planet. We’ve turned away from renewable materials which actively clean our air, and protect us from damaging fungal growth. We’ve turned towards toxic products simply because they are easier to clean and require less maintenance. But with an innovation like Graphenstone, you no longer have to make that choice.

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