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TECHNOLOGY | NANOCOMPOSITES


produce SWCNTs in Luxembourg, and these are set to go into production between the end of 2020 and 2022. There will be five units in all, with a combined capacity of 250 tonnes/yr. The company already has production in Siberia: a 50-tonne standard production reactor plant and a 10-tonne pilot plant. Also at Fakuma was Cabot, with its growing


Above: Compounds containing nanoparticles can be safe to handle


and Marketing Director in Europe. “OCSiAl has technology to mass-produce graphene nanotubes, and is scaling up production capacity in various locations worldwide,” he says. Siara says that, unlike multi-wall CNTs, carbon


fibres and most types of carbon black that tend to disperse unequally in the material’s matrix, SWC- NTs create a uniform network at the same volume fraction. So while the percolation threshold for carbon black is between 20 and 40%, for its SWCNTs it is between 0.001 and 0.01%. OCSiAl has developed applications in rubber


latex, silicones, and polyurethanes, as well as polyolefins for rotational moulding. Siara says the company has succeeded in applying the nanotubes to processes including compound extrusion and injection moulding. He says the company exhibited at the recent Fakuma trade fair in Germany, which has a strong focus on injection moulding, “to motivate the market to build the technology to be able to use graphene nanotubes.” OCSiAl offers its SWCNTs in a neat form and also as masterbatches. The version for use in polyolefins is called Tuball Matrix 801 and is intended for dosage rates that start at 0.5% by weight. This is already being used in production of rotationally- moulded antistatic packaging for flammable and explosive liquids and powders. A second application is in semi-conductive shielding materials for medium and high-voltage power cables. A third in injection moulded PP casings with ESD characteristics. Another possible addition option is to add the


SWCNTs at the polymerisation stage. “This is a much more promising way to go,” Siara says. “We have shown it is possible with polyamides and also polypropylene.” He says this should further the cause of lightweighting in automotive applications by allowing polyolefins to be used in more de- manding applications than is possible to today. OCSiAl is currently building new facilities to


34 COMPOUNDING WORLD | December 2018


range of carbon-based solutions. Angelos Kyrlidis, the company’s Research and Development Director, Advanced Carbons for New Product Development, gave a presentation at the event on new conductive formulations with what he calls Advanced Carbons. These include graphene aggregates, which the company is targeting at batteries, and reduced graphene oxide (rGO), for plastics and elastomers; as well as CNTs and Carbon Nanostructures, CNSs, described as forests of crosslinked branched nanotubes that are easier to disperse than CNTs.


Addressing the risk OCSiAl recently engaged Envigo, an independent European research laboratory, to conduct studies on possible ecotoxic effects of Tuball SWCNTs. Their ecotoxicity potential was examined by treating algae, which are acknowledged as being a very sensitive species, with a saturated solution of the nanotubes for 72 hours, in accordance with OECD chemical testing guideline 201. The measured algal biomass densities and thus


the growth rates demonstrated that there were no toxic effects after exposure of algae to Tuball nanotubes. The company quotes toxicology consultant Detlef Schuler as saying: “There is no indication that dissolved Tuball single wall carbon nanotubes have any intrinsic ecotoxic properties at all when tested in solution as stipulated by the testing guideline. Furthermore, unlike multi wall carbon nanotubes and carbon fibres, single wall carbon nanotubes are highly flexible and may thus generally have a lower potential to harm the cell walls of algae.” The International Agency for Research on


Cancer has categorised one type of multi-wall CNT (MWCNT-7) as a Group 2B substance, meaning “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” It categorised all other types of MWCNT, as well as SWCNTs, as Group 3 substances, “not classifiable as to their carcinogenicity to humans”. Another company taking care of H&S aspects is


Nano4. It was founded seven years ago with the goal of turning breakthrough nanotechnologies developed at the University of Mons and its research institute Materia Nova in Belgium into commercial products. Nano4 is active in nanoparti-


www.compoundingworld.com


PHOTO: NANO4


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