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NANOCOMPOSITES | TECHNOLOGY


Developers of nano-materials and nanocomposite compounds have learnt a lot over the past three decades and the technology may now be ready to deliver, writes Peter Mapleston


Nanocomposites are now ready to deliver


They may sound like novelties, but nanocomposites are now over 30 years old. Defined as a compound — it is unclear why the word composite was chosen — containing a filler having at least one dimension in the nanometre (109


born in Toyota’s research laboratories in the late 1980s and put to use, in the form of a nanoclay- reinforced PA6 , in a timing belt with enhanced mechanical properties in 1991. Since then, they have been a major area of research, with different nano-additives being used to improve not only stiffness and strength, but also fire resistance, gas barrier, electrical and thermal conductivity – all using much lower addition rates than are normally applied for established additives intended to do the same job. Considerable development effort has gone into the preparation and incorporation into thermoplas-


www.compoundingworld.com m) range, nanocomposites were


tics of nanoparticles having differences in shape, size, aspect ratio, structure and geometry; several types of nanoparticle have been recognised as possible additives to enhance performance properties. These include nanoclays such as montmorillonite and halloysite; and carbon in what might be considered almost one-dimensional form (single and multi-wall nanotubes or SWCNTs and MWCNTs) and in two dimensions (graphene). There are also carbon variants in spherical form, but these have to date found little application in nanocomposites. Nanotechnology certainly has the potential for


an important future in plastics compounds, but that future is possibly not as golden as was originally portrayed. Today, the evangelical fervour has waned to be replaced by more measured claims and expectations. “We remain believers in the


December 2018 | COMPOUNDING WORLD 27


Main image: 30 years on from their first arrival, the hype of some nanocomposite pioneers has been replaced with more realistic and affordable solutions


PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK


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