A FAMILY-OWNED chemical firm at the forefront of a revolutionary electricity conductor has brought forward plans to scale-up production.

Thomas Swan and Co, of Consett, says its first Elicarb graphene products will be finished by September.

Bosses had initially set a deadline for the end of the year, but said high commercial demand has forced them to change their schedule.

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Graphene is an ultra-light carbon material, which could support the weight of a ten-tonne truck, despite being as thin as a human hair.

Experts say it can also conduct electricity a million times better than copper, and is 200 times stronger than steel.

Thomas Swan, which began life in 1926 converting steel industry slag waste into road surfacing, last year signed a £625,000 four-year deal with Trinity College Dublin to develop a process for making graphene on an industrial scale.

Paul Ladislaus, senior process technologist, said: “We are delighted with the decision to support an accelerated plan.

“Thanks to the work we have completed, we know exactly what we need to build and how to build it.

“As a well-established speciality and performance chemical maker, Thomas Swan is perfectly placed to develop and scale-up novel materials processes.”

Its graphene products will be introduced to the US market later this month.