Polymer nanocomposites: Improved properties thanks to new nanomaterials
Nanofoam. Image courtesy of BASF Aktiengesellschaft, Ludwigshafen, Germany.
(pressebox) St.Gallen, 24.08.2007 – At this year’s NanoEurope Fair & Conference, the subject of “Improved properties achieved through new nanomaterials and process technologies” will occupy a prominent place. After the successful transformation of numerous research findings from the past ten years into promising commercial product innovations, novel polymer-based nanocomposites are also becoming increasingly attractive in the field of industry. In order to achieve tailor-made properties, a large number of basic polymers are being applied together with minerals such as silicates, clays, carbon nanotubes, or metallic particles either as individual materials or as closely defined agglomerates.
This year’s NanoEurope in St. Gallen from September 11 – 13 will present current applications, trends, and future uses of nanotechnology in the areas of Textiles, Medical Devices, Packaging and Plastics in addition to Solar Power. An entire conference day will be dedicated to the subject of “Improved properties achieved through new nanomaterials and process technologies.” It will provide information on innovations and new methods of manufacturing and enable attendees to familiarize themselves with product innovations that have already been put into commercial practice.
Optimization of product properties
The organizers of the NanoEurope have invited renowned representatives from the research community and industry to talk about their latest findings. Among other things, the oneday conference will show possibilities of optimizing properties of end products by treating the nanoparticles and incorporating them in the polymer matrix. One example of this is the prevention of agglomerations by insitu processing of the particles with special surface layers. This topic will be discussed at the NanoEurope by Walter Caseri from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich. Another possibility of controlling the properties is to make the organoclays appear in the polymer in a particularly large number of layers like opened-up sheets using an insitu process. Michaël Alexandre from the University of Mons-Hainaut in Belgium will demonstrate that this allows targeted property changes that are not possible using a classical production approach. As the capability of carbon nanotubes to dock on a wide variety of polymers is further improved by surface functionalizations with chemical groups, they will play an important role at this year’s NanoEurope, too. Volker Abetz from the GKSS Research Centre Geesthacht GmbH will show that this enables better control over the functions and properties of the composites produced.
Nanostructured polymers and composites in industrial applications
For all these processes, large-scale commercial production is a crucial test on the road to industrial innovation. This step has already been successfully made by companies such as Clariant, BASF, Degussa, and Kabelwerk Eupen AG. At the NanoEurope, these businesses will therefore present new manufacturing processes and innovations. For example, the BASF company’s research laboratory at the University of Strassbourg (ISIS, Institut de Science et d’Ingénierie Supramoléculaires) has developed nanoporous foams. Such materials may exhibit an appreciably reduced thermal conductivity. By adding magnetic nanoparticles to polymers, Degussa AG has succeeded in selectively heating these materials from the inside and thereby developing a novel bonding technique. Kabelwerk Eupen AG manufactures flameresistant cables with modified layer silicates as nanofillers, and the corresponding nanocomposites allow a sharp reduction in the total content of required fillers. By adding a mere 5 percent by weight of a suitable nanofiller to the EVA polymer, it proved possible to reduce the maximum heat release rate by almost 50 %, significantly improving the thermal stability of the material.
NanoEurope – unique platform for science and industry
The latest research findings and numerous examples of innovations ready to be marketed offer engineers, product managers, and researchers an abundance of crucial information for their everyday professions. In addition, the Innovation Forum presents a good opportunity to maintain contacts in the fields of research cooperation ventures and service. Visitors to the concurrent fair can familiarize themselves with nanoinnovations that have already been transformed into commercial products.