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Natural nano files nanocomposite patent for wide range of uses in polymers and plastics industries

DTI Globalwatch : 19 October, 2006  (Technical Article)
NaturalNano, Inc., a nanotechnology and materials science company that commercializes naturally occurring nanotubes, today announced that it has filed a U.S. patent application for advances in the production of nanocomposites in the polymers and plastics industry.
'The patent application describes significant improvements for plastics and polymers used in the automotive, military, packaging, electronics, and aerospace industries. These applications require strong, ductile, and high-temperature materials,' said Dr. Cathy A. Fleischer, NaturalNano's chief technology officer, a polymer chemist and former R&D Director at Eastman Kodak Company.

Most notably, the specially treated halloysite nanotubes eliminate the need for exfoliation, an additional production step required with traditional nanoclay materials. Exfoliation involves separating layers of clay with chemicals and other processing steps. If incomplete, exfoliation may result in non-uniformity, or weak spots in the plastic, which can lead to brittle failure.

'By eliminating the expensive, time-intensive exfoliation process, these new nanocomposite technologies provide a tremendous benefit to manufacturers by enabling them to use existing processing equipment and processes, potentially reducing cost and cycle time,' said Dr. Fleischer.

Key benefits of the specially treated halloysite nanotubes to the polymers and plastics industries include an increase in the nanocomposite material strength and modulus (resistance to fracture under stress) without sacrificing ductility (ability to flow without breaking), improved uniformity of finished materials, reduced component weight and improved performance at higher temperatures.

'Adding nano-enhanced materials, such as those being developed by NaturalNano, can reduce weight or increase performance properties of composite structures used in the transportation and construction equipment industries. This means that products with higher value or lower cost can be provided to the end-customer, which is of great interest to our member companies,' said Jay Batten, Vice President, National Composite Center.

The patent-pending technologies also expand upon the Company's know-how and technologies for inserting active ingredients, such as fragrances, within the tubes for extended release as well as metallizing nanotubes for uses in electronics and other applications. Building upon research conducted at NaturalNano's laboratories, the patent filing follows on a provisional application filed by the Company one year ago and includes international coverage.

These innovations relate to the nanocomposite market within the estimated $300 billion North American plastics industry, as reported by the Society of the Plastics Industry. The global consumption of nanocomposites has an estimated annual growth rate in excess of 22% through 2010, according to forecasts from BCC Research.
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