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Graphene-enhanced composites allow for world’s fastest bicycle wheels

News International-French

18 Aug 2015

Recently awarded Vittoria Industries Ltd. has developed a range of graphene-based products, using this material’s exceptional properties for its renowned racing wheels, now dubbed “the fastest in the world”.

Vittoria Industries Ltd. became an international group in 1990, building a distinct brand name and image in the bicycle wheels industry, with a specific focus on racing wheels. The company plans on pushing past the usual boundaries met by cycling wheels by working on flexibility, weight reduction and effective heat dissipation.

Making the most of graphene’s unique properties
Graphene, about 100 times stronger than steel and much lighter, conducts heat and electricity very efficiently and has thus been considered an exceptional material ever since its discovery. It is no wonder then that time and again it has been incorporated into polymer composites with the clear goal of creating materials with even better physical properties.

As a result, graphene composites possess a myriad of wide-ranging applications thanks to their unique and extremely useful properties: low weight, flexibility, excellent electrical conductivity, etc. Possible applications range from medical implants to reducing car weight by one third in the automotive industry, and providing new, unique materials for the aeronautics sector.

In the case of the “Qurano 46” full-carbon race wheel, Vittoria added graphene to its wide-section tubular rims. This improved the material properties by 10 to 30%. Thanks to graphene, the build-up temperatures were reduced and the spoke-hole strength was increased, as well as the lateral stiffness.

What’s more, Vittoria assures that even though the Qurano wheels outperform their previous carbon-fibre wheels, they are priced the same. As of 2015, the company is distributing the Qurano wheels in 10 countries and plans on following with 10 more.

Partnerships and commercial success
In order to bring this project to light, Vittoria worked with Directa Plus, an Italian company supplying graphene materials. Directa launched a 30-ton graphene plant and developed its own exfoliation process, which is used to produce super-expanded graphite, pristine Graphene NanoPlatelets (GNPs), water-dispersed GNPs and fine nanographite powder.

With this new generation of wheels, Vittoria went from manufacturer to innovative precursor company. This was confirmed in April 2015 when the company received the IDTechEx Commercialisation award in recognition of its use of graphene in traditional but high-end products and innovative advances in graphene composites.

Rudie Campagne, the founder and president of Vittoria Industries, notes: “Receiving the IDTechEx award at the Printed Electronics Europe 2015 conference and trade show is a major milestone in the revolution we started. The combination of our high-performance wheel and tyre products with pristine graphene is an innovative development that unlocks a whole new level of uncompromised performance.”

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