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The Carbon Nanotube Race Accelerates

The Carbon Nanotube Race Accelerates

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.

One of the early applications for a carbon nanotube composite is a fuel filter for the Audi A4. Photo:  BASF
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