New breakthroughs and the main challenges in the field of nanopolymers were among the key topics of discussion at the 2019 Nanoaugmented Materials Industry Summit (NAUM’19) in Kyoto, Japan, from 5 – 6 November 2019. According to the event organiser OCSiAl Group, the number of graphene nanotube-enhanced polymer applications is growing fast, building an ecosystem of greater efficiency and durability around us – e.g. in wind turbines, tyres, anti-static packaging and clothes, home and industrial electronics, as well as car parts.
450 delegates from 31 countries gathered together in Kyoto for the annual NAUM industry summit to share their experience in applying graphene nanotubes in various types of polymers. These tiny tubes’ main benefit is the opportunity to combine permanent anti-static properties with good mechanical performance, said the organiser.
The Lehvoss Group presented its results on improving the performance of PA6, PA12, PPS and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) with graphene nanotube formulations that are already available on a commercial scale. With the help of graphene nanotubes, the company has been able to develop the first electrically conductive laser sinter material in the market, suitable for power bed fusion and FFF technologies. “If you think about applications, these are carriers, trays, housings, switchers, containers and medical equipment,” said Marco Burth, Lehvoss Group Product Development Manager.
Trelleborg recognises graphene nanotubes’ ability to provide conductivity and to improve ageing and abrasion resistance in thermoplastics. At NAUM’19 the company shared its results in solving the serious problem of the large radar cross-section (RCS) of wind turbines, which interferes with airport-approach radar system. Using graphene nanotubes in these thermoplastic components helps to absorb over 99 % of the incident radar wave to make the coated object ‘stealthy’. “Gigawatts of renewable energy power can be unlocked by using this technology,” explained Adam Nevin, Innovation Lead of Trelleborg Applied Technologies.
The Finnish company Arctic Biomaterials focuses on sustainable and biodegradable plastics. “We are creating biodegradable composites with Tuball nanotubes,” said Ari Rosling, R&D Director. By overcoming the typical drawbacks, these biodegradable polymer nanocomposites are suitable for direct delivery of electrical stimulation to a cell, and as tissue material for osteosynthesis and for neural and cardiac repair. They can also be used as a component material for transient electronics and anti-static packaging.
A huge market that is already adopting graphene nanotubes is rubbers and tyres, NAUM’19 experts said. “The key issue for the industry is combining mechanical performance with a stable level of conductivity,” noted Ekaterina Gorbunova, Vice President for Elastomers of OCSiAl. Nanotubes solve this problem in NBR, EPDM and natural rubbers. Jean-Nicolas Helt, OCSiAl Development and Support Leader, stated that, after the inventions of radial construction and silica technology, the third big revolution in the tyre industry is now possible thanks to graphene nanotubes, which improve all the key properties at the same time, something that was unachievable with any conventional additive. “Tuball nanotubes optimise the overall performance, improve the abrasion resistance leading to a longer life, bring a strong improvement in wet grip that boosts safety, enable excellent electrical conductivity resulting in equipment protection, and allow a unique improvement in rolling resistance that reduces vehicles’ energy consumption and emissions.”
The heat and chemical resistance of fluoroelastomers means that they are in high demand in the automotive, semiconductor, and oil and gas industries. “By using a very low amount of Tuball nanotubes in fluoroelastomers, we can increase the tear strength, conductivity and modulus, and probably even the abrasion resistance,” said Junpei Terada, Marketing Section Manager of Daikin Industries, at the summit in Kyoto.
Food and electronics packaging, industrial rollers and conveyor belts, cables, textile fibres, urban vehicle tyres and many more high-performance products – the fifth annual Nanoaugmented Materials Industry Summit demonstrated that the range of graphene nanotube-enhanced polymer applications is growing explosively, bringing more opportunities to engineers to develop completely new materials and products, said the organiser.