Graphene: The Wonder Material of the Future
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Graphene: The Wonder Material of the Future

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The following content is sponsored by HydroGraph

Graphene: The Wonder Material of the Future

There is a new wonder material in town, and its name is graphene. Since it was first successfully isolated in 2004, graphene, with its honeycomb-like 2D structure and its wide gamut of interesting properties, has been keenly studied by material scientists.

This naturally transparent 1 millimeter thick lattice of carbon atoms has multiple applications and could even one day potentially solve the world’s water crisis.

The faith in the material is so strong that, according to numbers projected by Fortune Business Insights, its market value will be $2.8 billion in 2027.

In this infographic from HydroGraph, we are introduced to the fascinating world of graphene, including its properties, applications, history and production.

What is Graphene?

It is a single layer (monolayer) of carbon atoms, tightly bound in a hexagonal honeycomb lattice. It is the building block of graphite, which is made up of multiple layers of these monolayer carbon atoms on top of each other.

Here is a quick breakdown of its properties:

  • It is the lightest material known to man, with 1 square meter weighing only 0.77 milligrams.
  • Despite its light weight, it is still 200 times stronger than steel.
  • It is one of the strongest conductors of heat and electricity.
  • It also has uniform absorption of light across the visible and near-infrared parts of the spectrum.

Given that graphene is a pure carbon-based material, it is potentially a sustainable solution for an almost limitless number of applications.

Importance of the Material in Future Applications

The future of science and technology is boundless, and graphene can help accomplish that future sooner than we expect.

Here are several profound inventions to look forward to in the near future:

Fuel from Air

A team of UK researchers led by Nobel Laureate Andre Geim have shown that graphene can be used as a proton exchange membrane in fuel cells.

The find surprised everybody since no one expected the membranes to allow protons to pass through its tight, one-atom-thick hexagon structure. In addition, graphene membranes could be used to sieve hydrogen gas out of the atmosphere, making it possible for mobile fuel cells to run on nothing but air.

More Drinkable Water

Graphene could help solve the world’s water crisis. Membranes made from graphene can be big enough to let water through, but small enough to filter out the salt. In other words, these membranes could revolutionize desalination technology.

In fact, a type of graphene has proven so effective at water filtration that it rendered water samples from Sydney Harbor safe to drink after passing through the filter just once.

Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) used “graphair” to make seawater drinkable after a single treatment.

A World Without Rust

Because it is virtually impermeable, a coat of graphene-based paint could one day be used to eradicate corrosion and rust. This is highly important because the estimated global cost of corrosion is $2.5 trillion annually.

Researchers have also recommended using glassware or copper plates covered with graphene paint as containers for strongly corrosive acids.

Saving Artwork from Fading

Graphene offers several material advantages: it can be produced in large, thin sheets; it blocks ultraviolet light; and is impermeable to oxygen, moisture, and other corrosive agents.

Layered overtop an artwork, researchers posited that it could prevent irreversible color fading due to light exposure and oxidizing agents (like air). Their findings revealed that a single protective layer could avert color fading by up to 70%.

Why Hasn’t the Wonder Material Taken Over?

Work still needs to be done before there can be widespread adoption of the material. Several production issues need to be addressed before more advanced sectors opt to implement it.

One current challenge of mass production revolves around chemical vapor deposition (CVD). While it is the best method for producing single-layer graphene, it is not ideal in terms of scale.

These challenges also make mass production a costly affair. It takes about $100 to produce a single gram of graphene. Even then, the methods used for mass-producing graphene yield low-quality products and release carbon into the environment.

Solving the Graphene Production Problem

To overcome these issues, HydroGraph has created a process to mass-produce graphene powder. It is environmentally conscious and highly efficient compared to other methods currently used in the market.

The HydroGraph process is the next step in the energy-efficient, environmentally friendly and customizable mass production of graphene.

Click here to learn more about HydroGraph and its wide array of product offerings.

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Retirement Spending: How Much Do Americans Plan to Spend Annually?

Retirement expenses can vary significantly from person to person. In this graphic, we show the range of expected retirement spending.

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Retirement Spending

Americans’ Expected Annual Retirement Spending

Planning for retirement can be a daunting task. How much money will you need? What will your retirement spending look like?

It varies from person to person, based on factors like your health, outstanding expenses, and desired lifestyle. One helpful trick is to break it down into how much you estimate you’ll spend each year.

In this graphic from Personal Capital, we show the expected annual retirement spending of Americans. It’s the last in a three-part series that explores Americans’ spending and savings.

The Range of Retirement Spending

To determine how much people expect to spend, we used anonymized data from users of Personal Capital’s retirement planning tool. It’s worth noting that these users are proactive regarding financial planning. They also have a median net worth of $829,000 compared to the $122,000 median net worth of the U.S. population overall.

Here is the range of expected annual retirement spending.

Expected Annual Retirement SpendingPercent of People
$10K1.3%
$20K3.3%
$30K7.5%
$40K9.8%
$50K5.2%
$60K12.7%
$70K10.2%
$80K6.4%
$90K9.1%
$100K5.4%
$110K1.5%
$120K9.7%
$130K1.5%
$140K2.8%
$150K2.2%
$160K0.9%
$170K0.4%
$180K2.7%
$190K0.7%
$200K0.8%
$210K0.5%
$220K0.2%
$230K0.1%
$240K1.6%
$250K0.3%
$260K0.2%
$270K0.1%
$280K0.1%
$290K0.1%
$300K0.7%
Over $300K2.1%

Users are a mix of single individuals and people in a relationship. In all cases, expected retirement spending is what the household expects to spend annually.

The most commonly-cited expected spending amount is $60,000. Interestingly, this is roughly in line with what Americans spend annually on their credit cards. This suggests that people may be using their current bills to help gauge their future retirement spending.

Median spending, or the middle value when spending is ordered from lowest to highest, falls at $70,000. However, average spending is a fair amount higher at $100,000. This is because the average is calculated by adding up all the expected retirement spending amounts and dividing by the total number of users. Higher expected spending amounts, some in excess of $300,000 per year, skew the average calculation upwards.

Of course, given their higher net worth, it’s perhaps not surprising that many Personal Capital users expect to spend larger amounts in retirement. How does this compare to the general population? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans age 65 and older spend about $48,000 per year on average.

Chances of Retirement Success

Once you’ve determined how much you’ll spend in retirement, your next step may be to wonder if your savings are on track. Based on an assessment of Personal Capital retirement planner users, here is the breakdown of people’s chance of success.

Retirement Spending Chance of Success

The good news: more than half of people have an 80% or better chance of meeting their retirement spending goals. This means they have sufficient financial assets and are contributing enough, regularly enough, to meet their expected spending amount. The not so good news: one in five people has a less than 50% chance of meeting their goals.

This problem is even more troublesome in the overall U.S. population. Only 50% of people have a retirement account, and the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College estimates half of today’s workers are unprepared for retirement.

Setting Your Own Retirement Spending Goals

While seeing the goals of others is a starting point, your annual retirement spending will be very specific to you. Not sure where to start?

Financial planners typically recommend that you should plan on needing 70-80% of your pre-retirement income in retirement. This is because people generally no longer have certain expenses, such as commuting or childcare costs, when they retire. However, keep in mind your expenses could be higher if you still have a mortgage, encounter unforeseen medical expenses, or want to splurge on things like travel when you retire.

It requires some upfront planning, but being realistic about your retirement spending can give you confidence in your financial future.

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Navigating Market Volatility: Why ETFs Are Critical Tools

Historically, the trading volume of ETFs has spiked during market volatility. We explore why ETFs are preferred by institutional investors.

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ETFs During Market Volatility

Download the ETF Snapshot for free.

Why ETFs Are Critical Tools During Market Volatility

Investors experienced record-breaking volatility in 2020. During COVID-19 market turbulence, the CBOE Volatility index surpassed the previous peak seen in 2008.

In this infographic from iShares, we explore how ETFs rose in popularity during this time—and the characteristics that make them particularly useful during market volatility. It’s the first in a five-part series covering key insights from the ETF Snapshot, a comprehensive report on how institutional investors manage volatility.

The Methodology

To assess how institutional investors navigated this volatility, Institutional Investor published a report in 2021 based on a survey of 766 decision makers. Respondents were from various types of organizations, firm sizes, and regions.

For instance, here is how responses broke down by location:

  • 21% Asia Pacific
  • 36% North America
  • 29% Europe, Middle East and Africa
  • 14% Latin America

Here’s what the survey found.

Rebalancing During Market Volatility

In total, 90% of institutional investors said they rebalanced their portfolios between the first and third quarter of 2020. How did they do it?

Among all financial tools, ETFs were the most popular vehicle for rebalancing. For instance, ETFs were used by 70% of investors globally, compared to the 51% who used mutual funds or derivatives.

The popularity of ETFs was evident in market activity. From January to March 2020, ETFs as a proportion of total equity trading volume increased.

 January 2020February 2020March 2020
VIX142058
ETF trading volume$95B$136B$240B
ETF as % of equity volume26%27%36%

Based on an average of daily values. Reflects all listed U.S. ETFs across all asset classes.

This trend is true historically as well, as ETF trading volume has typically spiked during periods of volatility.

Want more institutional insights into ETFs?

Global Forecast 2022

Download The ETF Snapshot for free.

The Attributes Driving ETF Usage

Why are ETFs preferred by institutional investors? They offer three key characteristics:

  1. Liquidity: ETFs make it much simpler to buy and sell large portfolios instantly, instead of trading individual securities.
  2. Transparency: Among multi-asset managers, transparency of holdings is the top reason for using ETFs. A clear holdings breakdown helps these managers achieve exposures to particular asset classes, sectors, and styles.
  3. Efficiency: ETFs can be traded quickly. They typically also have lower transaction costs relative to the underlying basket of securities.

Based on these key benefits, ETFs were an invaluable tool during extreme market volatility.

Growing Momentum

ETFs are also poised to help institutional investors navigate the market going forward. Globally, 65% of institutional investors plan to increase their use of ETFs in the future.

In fact, this is already coming to fruition. As of September 2021, the average daily trading volume of ETFs was up more than 5% compared to 2020.

Evidently, ETFs play a critical part in helping institutional investors achieve their goals.

Download the ETF snapshot for free.

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