A report in Carbon shows how chemically altered graphene powder can be pressed into a lightweight, semiporous solid that retains many of the strong and conductive qualities of graphite, the form of carbon found in pencils, lubricants and many other products that normally requires high-temperature processing to make.

Mohamad Kabbani, a former graduate student of Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan and lead author of the paper, demonstrated the environmentally friendly, scalable process can be done in minutes by hand by grinding chemically modified graphene into a powder and using a hand-powered press to squeeze the powder into a solid pellet.

Kabbani previously showed how carbon nanotubes could be turned into graphene with a mortar and pestle rather than harsh chemicals.

This time, he and his colleagues demonstrated how to make a battery-sized pellet, but the graphene powders with chemical functionalities attached to it can be pressed into any form.

Kabbani said the material could be suitable for structural, catalytic, electrochemical and electronic applications.

In this case, mechano-chemistry at the nanoscale saved us a lot of energy and money."

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