Graphene foam ‘doubles longevity’ of new running shoe.

Sports footwear firm inov-8 has unveiled the world’s first running shoe to use a graphene-enhanced foam in the sole, bucking the widespread trend for carbon-plate technology and doubling the industry standard for longevity.

Developed via a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), co-funded by Innovate UK, with graphene experts at The University of Manchester, the cushioned foam, called G-FLY™, features as part of inov-8’s new trail shoe, the TRAILFLY ULTRA G 300 MAX™, designed for ultramarathon and long-distance runners.

Tests have shown the foam delivers 25% greater energy return than standard EVA foams and is far more resistant to compressive wear. It therefore maintains optimum levels of underfoot bounce and comfort for much longer.

This helps runners maintain a faster speed over greater distances, aid their feet in feeling fresher for longer, and prolong the life of their footwear.

inov-8g-fly 1200 crop

KTN“s Knowledge Transfer Adviser on the project is Andrew Kenney who commented: ““It has been a pleasure to see this project help to deliver an exciting real-world application for graphene to significantly enhance the performance of running shoes. It’s a great example of how KTP can facilitate business collaboration with our Universities to deliver innovation and commercial impact”.

Michael Price, COO of Lake District-based inov-8, said: “In an industry where running shoe manufacturers seem hung up on underfoot carbon plates, we’ve delivered an innovative proposition. G-FLY cushioned foam not only gives runners incredible long-lasting energy return but an underfoot feel free of rigidity and full of agility“.

The company first used graphene in 2018. Wayne Edy, who founded inov-8 in 2003, said: “We continue to carve our own trail, with innovation at the forefront of everything we do. It would be easy to follow others, but that is not in our DNA. Our revolutionary use of graphene, first in rubber and now in foam, proves that we dare to be different.

Since graphene was first isolated at The University of Manchester in 2004, a team of more than 300 staff at the University has pioneered a diverse range of projects and contributed to graphene-enhanced sports cars, medical devices, aerospace developments, improvements in infrastructure and sports footwear.

Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, Reader in Nanomaterials at the University, home to both the National Graphene Institute and Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre, said: “As well as on the trail, we also tested extensively in the laboratory, including subjecting the foam to aggressive ageing tests that mimic extensive use. Despite being significantly aged, the G-FLY foam still delivered more energy return than some unaged foams.

“We are proud of G-FLY foam, the TRAILFLY ULTRA G 300 MAX and all we have achieved in our highly-successful partnership with inov-8. We look forward to the next phase and further expanding the use of graphene, a material that has limitless potential.

The TRAILFLY ULTRA G 300 MAX goes on sale on 8 April.

  • KTPs enable businesses to access the resources and embed the knowledge held within the UK’s Knowledge Bases (universities, research institutes and catapults).
  • KTN supports the delivery of the programme via its national network of 31 specialist Knowledge Transfer Advisers. They are on hand through every stage of every KTP – from initial scoping to post-project evaluation – helping guide its progress and ensure its success. The Knowledge Transfer Adviser on this project is Andrew Kenney.
  • Funding competitions for KTP and Management KTP are open throughout the year. Find out more here.

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