Right: An antistatic film (left) containing OCSiAl’s SWCNTs alongside a standard film pack

nanomaterials to add electrical conductivity to panels eliminates the need for separate application of a conductive primer before electrostatic painting. Also shown at NAUM’19 was Trelleborg’s

graphene nanocomposite for wind turbine parts that absorb radar waves to significantly reduce the problem of their large radar cross-section. The material is based on a TPU matrix. The very high surface area of nanotubes makes dispersion challenging so OCSiAl offers predis- persed forms of its Tuball graphene called Tuball Matrix. These are said to enable faster mixing and easier handling. The company says that the concentrates, in which Tuball is mixed with a dispersant, must be diluted to the correct concen- tration level according to the instructions provided. In June this year, OCSiAl licensed the Matrix technology to Skintech, a Brazilian nanotechnology company, which will manufacture and supply Tuball Matrix to customers in Brazil. Regional manufactur- ing facilities will reduce delivery costs and time, according to OCSiAl. In the Americas, the initial focus for Tuball is on electrostatic discharge (ESD) flooring using coatings (for example, epoxy or urethane). Tuball means the flooring coating thickness can be reduced, allowing faster installation and supporting a broader colour palette for flooring in applications such as electronics manufacturing, chemical plants, and hospitals, says Fellows.

Below: An electron micrograph image showing the structure of Versarian’s Nanene graphene platelets

Chasing commercialisation Versarian continues to work on commercialisation of graphene from 2-Dtech, a subsidiary of the University of Manchester. In a presentation to investors in January of this year, Head of Commer- cial at Versarien, David Kerr, pointed to a host of “engagements” at various stages of development. The company offers its Polygrene range of polymer compounds and masterbatches with varying levels of graphene in different matrix polymers. Quebec, Canada-based NanoXplore is in the

process of constructing a facility for commercial production of graphene. The company aims to have 4,000 tonne/yr running by early 2020, with plans to eventually have capacity of 10,000 tonne/yr. Markets for the company’s graphene-enhanced plastic and composite products are expected in areas such as transportation, packaging, and electronics, where they can improve a range of properties, including barrier, UV and chemical resistance. The company recently filed a patent on its process for dispersion of graphene in polymers. “Using this new cost-effective and highly scalable method enables us to get the same properties that a tradi- tional graphene compounding method would give, but using only one third of the graphene concentra- tion,” says Liam Farrell, CEO of NanoXplore. Research at the company has found that adding

1% graphene to HDPE increases the resistance to oxygen and humidity permeation by up to 30% and also improves thermal and UV degradation performance, according to Dr Nima Moghimian, NanoXplore Product Development Manager. The researchers have also looked at the combination of graphene with glass fibre in pultruded products and found improved mechanical properties. Farrell says that the company’s GrapheneBlack can also address sustainability by improving mechanical performance. “Graphene delays the thermal degradation of polymers in each process- ing step and therefore increases the material’s lifetime; the material can be recycled and reused more frequently than before. It also improves the physical properties of the resin, which could compensate the loss of these properties in the recycled materials,” he says.

Unlocking performance XG Sciences, based in Michigan in the US, manufac- tures xGnP graphene nanoplatelets. The company supplies graphene-enhanced masterbatches,

38 COMPOUNDING WORLD | December 2019



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