The race to build carbon
nanotube capacity accelerated as Nanocyl announced plans to build a reactor
with a capacity of 400 metric tons/year for producing carbon nanotubes (CNTs)
in Sambreville, Belgium. The new plant will almost
double global capacity to produce carbon nanotubes. "We have successfully scaled up our carbon nanotube
production technology." said Francis Massin, CEO of Nanocyl. "This new unit
will complement the existing reactor that we have already up scaled to 60
metric tons/year. Thanks to these capacity increases, we will be able to
support the rapidly growing demand of our customers." The new Nanocyl reactor unit will also complement a 3,000
tons/year extrusion line installed in 2009 that produces PLASTICYL
thermoplastic concentrates for new applications requiring electrical
conductivity and protection from electrostatic discharge (ESD). According to
Massin, Nanocyl also added the capability in September to compound high
temperature thermoplastics, such as PEEK, to address the demands of the
semiconductor industry for CNTs that also must be chemical resistant. Carbon nanotubes are used as reinforcements in polymers to
boost mechanical, thermal and electrical properties. They are described as the
strongest and stiffest materials available in terms of tensile strength and
elastic modulus, respectively. BCC Research forecasts that global
sales of carbon nanotube reinforced plastics will grow at an average annual
growth rate exceeding 55 percent over the next five years for
electrical/electronic, transportation, structural and other applications. Efficient Transistors Because of their unique electrical properties, CNTs are
expected to play a critical role in miniaturizing electronics. It's possible to
make transistors based
on carbon nanotubes that operate at room temperature and can function as a
digital switch using a single electron. One unique proposal for carbon
nanotubes is the construction of a space elevator in which
composites would climb a ribbon strung from Earth to a counterweight in space. One of the first applications for CNTs is a fuel filter
produced by Bosch for the Audi A4 made from Ultraform N2320 C polyacetal. The filter
has a high level of electric conductivity without much of a decrease in
toughness. The new capacity, due to come online in 2010, will make
Nanocyl the largest producer of CNTs. At least three other companies, however,
are also expected to dramatically boost capacity. They are Bayer, Showa Denka
and Arkema. Nanocyl S.A.,
established in 2002, is a leading global manufacturer of specialty and
industrial carbon nanotubes. Nanocyl is headquartered in Belgium, has a division in Atlanta
and is opening a subsidiary in Korea.
Siemens and Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology have achieved a faster production process based on selective laser melting for speeding up the prototyping of big, complex metal parts in gas turbine engines.
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