Material which can change the whole world

15.04.2018

Experts call single-wall carbon nanotubes (CNTs) one of the most promising materials that can make a revolution in many industries. By using them in negligible amounts, it is possible to significantly improve the properties of traditional materials or even give them completely new characteristics.

The nanotubes seem very fragile: they are extended cylindrical carbon structures with a “wall” thickness of one atom, diameter of one to several tens of nanometers, i.e. only a few billionths of a meter. Despite this, they turned out to be extremely durable material that can stretch and bend.

Carbon nanotubes have a number of unique properties, from the highest strength to high electrical conductivity. Specialists predict a promising future for them. According to experts, carbon nanotubes will soon be used everywhere.

Currently, the largest automotive companies are making tires with the addition of carbon nanotubes, increasing their abrasion resistance. Metal parts, for example, the bottom of the passenger compartment, are beginning to be replaced with plastic ones. Such a modified bottom is not subject to corrosion and at the same time not inferior to the metal one in terms of protective properties due to the increased mechanical strength provided by nanotubes inserted into plastic. Using ultra-thin films made of single-wall nanotubes, it is possible to create extremely flat displays in the computer industry or get an excellent base for electronic sensors. In construction, the concrete strength is increased, and its shrinkage is reduced due to carbon nanotubes. Paints and self-leveling floors with antistatic properties, which are in demand at electronic industry enterprises, in medical institutions, etc., are being created. It is planned to make highly efficient fuel cells, heavy-duty threads and even artificial muscles based on nanotubes.

Carbon nanotubes are just entering our lives, but in Mordovia this material is already counted on.

In the first quarter of 2018, the chemical contract manufacturing multifunctional production cluster Element Pro (Element Pro Production Center, LLC) with over 120 million rubles of investments will be launched in Saransk. It will be located at the Technopark-Mordovia Experimental Production Center and will produce functional additives (concentrates) based on single-wall carbon nanotubes made by the Novosibirsk company OCSiAl using a unique technology.

Original functional CNT-based additives developed and manufactured in Mordovia will be used in a number of areas to give new or improved properties to materials and products: electrical conductivity, improved thermal conductivity, increased strength, resistance to abrasion, elevated temperatures, etc.

The production facility is designed for a wide range of materials: additives for plastics, organic dispersion production, aqueous dispersion production. The main areas of production will be electrically conductive organic resins, paints with a high scratch test value, hydrophobic dispersions for paintwork materials, hardening and electrically conductive additives for plastics, demanded, for example, by the cable industry.

According to the Development Director of the Center for Nanotechnology and Nanomaterials of the Republic of Mordovia Vitaly Ariskin, the Element Pro Production Center is capable of producing up to 5 thousand tons of concentrates per year. The Element Pro service consumers will include over ten project companies of the  Nanocenter of Mordovia, as well as third-party customers from various industries. The domestic industry CNT additives market is estimated at hundreds of millions of rubles per year.

Therefore, Mordovia will soon acquire another company working on the “future technologies”. Also, new jobs are being created — over 50 highly qualified employees will work at the enterprise.

For reference:

Nanocenter of Mordovia is one of 15 nanotechnology centers created in 11 Russian regions with the participation of the Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs (FIEP, Rusnano Group).

The FIEP main goal is to develop infrastructure in the field of nanotechnology, promote the creation of a high-tech and competitive nanotechnology industry in Russia.