It’s been a while since we saw a graphene pitch, so this one caught my eye — it’s from David Fessler, in an ad for his Oxford Resource Explorer ($995/year), and he refers to graphene as “elastic metal” to make it seem even more secret and mysterious. Here’s how one of his emails got us started:
“I call it…
“It’s unlike any material you’ve ever seen.
“Stronger than steel, aluminum and titanium COMBINED.
“Time calls it ‘the miracle material that will change everything!’
“Lightning-speed computers… ultra-powerful batteries… drinkable seawater…
“This could completely reshape our modern society.
“And you’re going to be one of the first people to see the potential of this Elastic Metal.”
And then he gets more into it in the actual ad once you click through…
“Mankind has gone through the Stone Age… the Bronze Age… the industrial age. Now the Elastic Metal Age is here… and it could hand folks an $88,000 windfall…..
“Unbreakable New “Elastic Metal” Is 10,400% Stronger Than Steel, Aluminum and Titanium Combined
“Investors in one key 25-cent company could turn a small stake into as much as $88,000”
If you’re new to the world of investment teaser pitches, this might sound extra exciting, but essentially the same ads ran hot and heavy back in 2011-2012 or so, when the world was first becoming aware of the potential of graphene as a fantastic nanomaterial (and shortly after the Nobel Prize in Physics had been awarded to some early graphene scientists in 2010). Remember the ads about how a thin sheet of the stuff across the top of a coffee cup could support a pencil point, and a school bus could be resting on that pencil and it wouldn’t break the graphene layer?
It’s cool stuff, to be sure. Here’s more from Fessler’s ad…
“The potential applications of what I’m calling ‘Elastic Metal,’ or ‘EMe’ for short, are mind-boggling.
“Dams that never fail…
“Roads that never crack…
“Bridges that never crumble…”
OK, so it’s a stretch to go from an experimental material that was only just isolated less than 15 years ago and still can’t really be commercially produced in volume, to wrapping your dams and bridges with it. But yes, graphene has thousands of theoretical uses. More from the ad…
“Business magnate Richard Branson wants to start building planes out of it.
“And legendary investor Jim Rogers proclaims…Are you getting our free Daily Update
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‘Scientists say [this material] is going to bring bigger changes to the world than transistors and the internet.’
“A material this revolutionary could make investors enormously wealthy.
“You can claim a stake in the potentially massive profits of this revolutionary material… for as little as $0.25.”
OK, so I know you’re all skeptical at this point. Or at least, I hope you are. How does a little company get an important “stake” in something like graphene? After all, hundreds (maybe thousands) of researchers around the world are actively investigating as our understanding improves and different techniques for graphene production and different applications are considered.
For those who are new to this topic, graphene is just a layer of graphite — carbon atoms — that’s one atom thick… a two-dimensional nanomaterial, sort of the next wave of excitement beyond carbon nanotubes (which were also supposed to make us magically wealthy about ten years before, if memory serves). It was isolated by the Nobel Prize winners using scotch tape to remove a single layer of graphene from a graphite sample, and it is indeed a wondrous material in many ways — it’s much more conductive than gold, it’s flexible and transparent, it’s super-strong. Lots of applications, to be sure, from airframes wrapped with sensors that sense stress to lighter, thinner touch screens for electronics.
But you can’t go down to the local Home Depot and buy a roll of it just yet. Graphene is generally being used as a layer on other products, added to things like copper to enhance the properties of that substrate, and it seems like most of the attempts to create graphene sheets or layers use chemical vapor deposition (CVD), which is done at very high heat in those big “clean room” machines in a semiconductor fabrication facility and allows for the smooth deposition of a single layer of graphite atoms to form graphene. (And also means that the raw material is probably not the primary price driver — no more than sand is the primary price driver for semiconductor wafers or microchips… more on that in a moment).
So what does this have to do with the company we’re being teased about by Fessler? More from the ad:
“But you have to claim a share in the most promising company mining raw EMe NOW if you want to be one of them.
“A rapidly developing situation should prompt a COLOSSAL spike in demand for this substance.
“… when… vital industries initiate the global adoption of EMe…
“ONE $0.25 company is uniquely positioned to provide the EMe these massive businesses will need.
“And as it makes these lucrative transactions, its share price could skyrocket as much as 8,775%…
“Potentially turning every $1,000 stake into $88,000 over time.”
OK, so we are again talking about a mining stock — almost certainly a graphite mine developer or explorer. Natural graphite is commonly used for the carbon atoms that become graphene, though there are lots of different grades of mined graphite and you can also make graphene using other materials, so almost all graphite miners over the past five or ten years have pitched themselves as “graphene” companies at one point or another (that’s much more exciting than their historical and cyclical core businesses of making graphite anodes for steelmaking furnaces, and graphite for industrial lubricants).
Lately, graphite has gotten a non-graphene lease on life from batteries as well, since there’s much more graphite in a lithium-ion battery than there is lithium… so the more realistic graphite miners are pitching the electric vehicle story instead of the graphene story.
What else do we get from Fessler about why his particular miner stands out?
“Although scientists have been raving about the revolutionary potential of EMe for a while now…
“It hasn’t been implemented on a mass scale yet for one very important reason.
“While it’s made out of a cheap, widely available material… the actual process of mass-producing it is expensive.
“This has made it difficult to implement EMe on a global scale.
“Usually, this material is produced through a process known as chemical vapor deposition.
“This process uses a special copper surface to transform gases into a thin film of EMe.
“The problem is that this copper base is very expensive.
“Just one square meter costs $115….
“Researchers at the University of Glasgow have discovered a way to mass-produce large sheets of EMe…
“At a fraction of the price.
“They discovered this by tweaking the chemical process I just told you about.
“Instead of using a costly copper base to create EMe…
“These scientists came up with the novel idea of replacing this base with commercial copper foil.
“This is the same copper found in lithium-ion batteries.
“And it is FAR cheaper than the special copper scientists were using before.
“One square meter of special copper will set you back $115.
“But with this copper foil, a square meter is only $1.”
Huh, OK. So that has something to do with this particular miner?
Not really, Fessler seemingly just uses it as his rationale for why volume production of graphene is going to take off, driving up prices. That “breakthrough” in using copper foil, incidentally, happened about two years ago — you can see the note on it here from the University.
So what do we learn that’s specific to this company? Any actual clues?
“Near the banks of the Ottawa River, a team of explorers has unearthed a stunning EMe discovery.
“The value of this discovery could grow to $1.2 billion, making investors rich beyond their wildest dreams.
“But time is running out to get a piece of the super small miner that has claimed the right to harvest these riches!”
OK, so that narrows it down for us. More clues, after Fessler does get to the more relevant point that battery demand will also drive graphite demand for the near future…
“… to build all the electric vehicles these automakers have in the pipeline, they’re going to need at least 22 billion pounds of raw EMe.
“And when those rush orders come pouring in, this miner will be ready to fill them.
“Its Land Could Help Make This Company Worth $1.2 Billion!
“Right now, this miner is MICROSCOPIC.
“Its market cap is around $11 million, and it trades for nearly a quarter.
“But it’s sitting on the mother lode of the material needed to create EMe…
“Approximately 28 million metric tons….
“… if you want t