Bayer MaterialScience has opened a new pilot facility for the manufacture of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) at CHEMPARK Leverkusen (Germany). The company has invested some EUR 22 million in the planning, development and construction of the facility, which is the largest of its kind in the world with an annual capacity of 200 metric tons.

By investing in this key technology, Bayer MaterialScience is looking to gain a head start in supplying demand for a host of applications for multi-wall carbon nanotubes, which the company is marketing under the trade name Baytubes®. "Current forecasts predict an annual growth rate of 25% for carbon nanotubes,” says Dr. Joachim Wolff, a member of Bayer MaterialScience’s executive committee and head of the Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties segment. “Within 10 years, the market is expected to be worth $2 billion. We are also expecting nanotechnology to create a total of 100,000 new jobs in the German industry in the medium term.”

Baytubes are an innovative modification of carbon. They can be added to polymer matrices or metal systems as a filler or modifier to improve their mechanical strength and impart electrical properties. Potential applications include thermoplastic and thermoset systems and coatings. When used in coatings for ships, Baytubes ensure very high abrasion resistance. At the same time, they reduce the flow resistance between the ship's hull and the water, resulting in a significant reduction in fuel consumption. Further applications for carbon nanotubes include rotor blades for wind turbines and sports equipment, such as skis, hockey sticks, and surfboards.

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