By A Saj Mathews
Single wall carbon nano tubes (SWCNTs) are one of the most effective conductive additives which can significantly increase electrical and thermal conductivity and improve the mechanical properties and other important characteristics of materials. Russia-based OCSiAl, the pioneer in the field with its TUBALL™ brand of innovative SWCNTs, has already taken the global materials processing industry including that of rubber, glove, tyre and auto parts, by storm.
Single wall carbon nano tubes (SWCNTs), an innovative nano additive, is making waves in the global materials processing industry. And OCSiAl, the Russian company which has come out with a pioneering technology in this field, is on a fast track in expanding its footprints across the globe with its TUBALL™ brand of innovative SWCNTs. The key advantage of SWCNTs is that the desired properties of materials in the processing stage can be achieved with ultra-low loadings of the additive – hundreds or thousands of times lower than other widely used conductive additives, and starting from concentrations of just 0.01%.
OCSiAl’s huge market share in the field is a direct result of its unique technology to produce high-quality single wall carbon nano tubes, under the TUBALL™ brand, on an industrial scale, and at a price 75 times lower than that of the nearest analogues. The company has also developed super-concentrates that simplify the introduction of nano tubes into materials and do not require changes in production processes. OCSiAl synthesises almost 90% of the world’s capacity of this unique conductive additive for thousands of materials.
Rubber Asia at OCSiAl summit
The Nano Augmented Materials Industry Summit, held recently in Novosibirsk, in the Siberian region of Russia, helped the delegates to get updates on the latest challenges and prospects of this technology. Rubber Asia was among the hand-picked media which were invited to attend the summit held at a freezing minus 15 – 29°C.
The plenary session, scientific conference and round table discussions on five pioneering industries that have most actively adopted nano-augmented materials — batteries, elastomers, thermosets, thermoplastics and coatings — contributed to the sharing of knowledge and of the results achieved so far, and widened the prospects for rapid development of the nano-augmented materials industry.
One of the most noted presentations was on SWCNT: New freedom in material design and performance in tyres by Jean-Nicholas Helt, Development and Support Leader for Elastomers, OCSiAl. The Summit brought together leading pioneers in their respective fields including Rhein Chemie Additives, PolyStick, BÜFA, TrustChem, BAK Battery, Mahindra, Jungwoo. In order to share the company’s in-depth knowledge of single wall carbon nanotubes, their synthesis method and their safe use, OCSiAl took the Summit participants into its facilities, including the Graphetron 1.0 nanotube synthesis unit and the unrivalled TUBALL Centre for research and production.
The Summit gathered together almost 180 participants, from 27 countries, from companies that have already actively adopted nano-augmented materials in their production processes. The Global Marketing Manager of LANXESS Rhein Chemie Additives, Dr Benjamin Bechem, said: “We have presented to the market a line of TUBALL™-based suspensions branded Rhenofit CNT. And the market has already demonstrated an interest in it.”
SWCNTs, in particular, have strong potential in advanced technologies, including high-performance composites, molecular electronics, and ultra-sensitive sensor devices. However, until now, the uptake of SWNTs was slow due to high costs and greater processing difficulty when compared with multi-walled carbon nano tube production.
Laboratory tests have demonstrated the efficacy of SWCNTs, with ultra-low loadings of 0.05% or less required to achieve the necessary level of conductivity. Embedded into latex, SWCNTs with high aspect ratio are capable of forming inter-connected networks between rubber matrix and carbon nanotubes. Therefore, a lower loading of such materials can provide the required electrical conductivity and simultaneously retain the mechanical properties of the elastomeric matrix, which makes them ideal for such applications, said Ms Ekaterina Gorbunova, Managing Director (Elastomers) OCSiAl).
Production and R&D facility
To facilitate the application of TUBALL SWCNTs in different materials and applications, OCSiAl has established its own scientific and prototyping center. Started in October 2013 with the equipment installation for electrochemical power sources, OCSiAl expanded its facilities and, in 2015, established the new TUBALL Center for developing technologies for rubbers, plastics, composites, transparent conductive films, paints and coatings.
The TUBALL Center takes more than 4,000 square meters of space and has more than 150 equipment units to introduce nano tubes into various matrices. TUBALL Center’s key technologies include Carbon nano tubes research and processing, Electrochemical power sources, Elastomers, Thermoplastics, Thermosets, Paints and Coatings.
For large quantities of nanotubes, OCSiAl has launched a partnership program to create a network of OCSiAl dealers worldwide. This program will also stimulate the production of TUBALL™-enhanced versions of current products as well as the production of TUBALL™-based industrial modifiers for various materials.
OCSiAl was the first company to develop a breakthrough technology for the production of single wall carbon nano tubes, enabling large-scale commercial use for the first time. In 2014, it entered the nano materials market with its universal additive TUBALL™, which contains 75% of single wall carbon nano tubes. OCSiAl develops technologies based on nano tubes for a range of applications including lithium-ion batteries, elastomers, plastics, transparent conductive films, composite materials and others. In 2016, it launched a unique technology – the super-concentrate TUBALL™ MATRIX. OCSiAl has regional offices in the US, Luxembourg, Russia, Korea, China, Hong Kong and India. Details about the company are available on the OCSiAl website: www.ocsial.com