Bayer MaterialScience Opens Carbon Nanotube Pilot Facility

Forecasts are for an annual growth rate of 25% for carbon nanotubes.

Bayer MaterialScience announced last week that he has opened the world's larger pilot facility for manufacture of carbon nanotubes at CHEMPARK Leverkusen in Germany.

"Current forecasts predict an annual growth rate of 25% for carbon nanotubes. Within ten years, the market is expected to be worth $2 billion," says Dr. Joachim Wolff, head of Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties for Bayer MaterialScience. "'We are also expecting nanotechnology to create a total of 100,000 new jobs in the German industry in the medium term," he adds.

The company said it is looking to gain a head start in supplying the demand for a whole host of applications for multi-wall carbon nanotubes, which the company is marketing under the trade name Baytubes.

Bayer MaterialScience has been operating a pilot facility with an annual capacity of 60 metric tons in Laufenburg in the German state of Baden-Wrttemberg since 2007. CNTs are manufactured from ethylene in a reactor at an elevated temperature using a catalytic process.

Baytubes are a highly innovative modification of carbon, the company said. They can be added to polymer matrices or metal systems as a filler or modifier to improve their mechanical strength and impart electrical properties. Potential applications include thermoplastic and thermoset systems and coatings. Further applications for carbon nanotubes include rotor blades for wind turbines, and sports equipment such as skis, hockey sticks and surfboards.

The company says that is playing a pioneering role when it comes to the safe usage of Baytubes carbon nanotubes, with a "comprehensive product stewardship program that supports the safe handling of Baytubes from production through processing to application and waste management."

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