The prototype shoe was presented at the
International Footwear Exhibition in Milan

The prototype shoe was presented at the International Footwear Exhibition in Milan

Italian shoe company Fadel has developed a footwear line enhanced by graphene to improve comfort, freshness, and better thermal properties.

According to Fadel, when flakes consisting of several graphene layers are added to the polyurethane soles of Freshoes footwear, laboratory tests show an augmented heat dispersion of more than 25% compared to normal footwear, and 50% better than pure polyurethane material.

Tests also demonstrated Freshoes were more watertight and had enhanced antibacterial properties.

The Tuscany-based company has partnered with scientific research centre Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) – a member of the European Union's Graphene Flagship project – to develop its patented GET technology.

Once the researchers at IIT Graphene Labs had optimised the way in which graphene was incorporated into the polystyrene, graphene production was realised by BeDimensional Srl, IIT's start-up company and a Graphene Flagship associate member, whose core activity is the development of new composites based on graphene and related materials to be applied in the manufacturing sector.

"One of the main properties of graphene is its ability to dissipate heat, so we began to think of combining graphene produced by liquid phase exfoliation, which produces large quantities of graphene at a low price, into polyurethane - the material used for the sole of the shoe," explains Vittorio Pellegrini, Director of IIT Graphene Labs and chair of the executive board of the Graphene Flagship. "This created a composite with a heat dissipation 50% better than the pure polyurethane material. We improved the thermal properties with a tiny amount of graphene (around 1%), which is significant in delivering a product whose cost is not significantly larger than before."

The Graphene Flagship was launched by the European Union in 2013 as part of its largest research initiative ever. With a budget of EUR1bn (US$1.17bn) it represents a new form of joint, coordinated research initiative with the overall aim of taking graphene and related materials from the realm of academic laboratories into European society, facilitating economic growth and creating new jobs, in the space of ten years.

Through a combined academic-industrial consortium consisting of more than 150 partners in over 20 European countries, the research effort covers the entire value chain, from materials production to components and system integration, and targets a number of specific goals that exploit the unique properties of graphene and related materials.

"The Graphene Flagship is a strong accelerator of knowledge, knowhow and technology transfer," adds Pellegrini. "Without the Flagship this shoe would have taken many years to develop. We benefited greatly from the ability to share our results and get ideas from other scientists through the Flagship."

Earlier this year, researchers in the UK developed what they claim to be the world's most technically advanced dress, designed to portray the potential of incorporating graphene into fashion and to inspire future experiments.

Graphene dress marks "major step" forward