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Posted: Aug 10, 2011
RUSNANO and VNIINM Launch Project to Produce High-Strength and High-Conductivity Wires
(Nanowerk News) RUSNANO and VNIINM (a subsidiary of TVEL which, in turn, is a member company of State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM) have signed an investment agreement that provides for commercial production of high-strengh nanostructured wires with high electrical conductivity ("super wires"). The project has a total budget of 1.02 billion rubles of which RUSNANO will co-invest 450 million rubles. VNIINM will finance the equivalent of 570 million rubles; a portion of its share will be in equipment and intellectual property.
Commercial production of the super wires will be organized to reach 50 tons per year. Earnings in 2015 from sale of the wires are forecasted in excess of 800 million rubles. The project, which will be based in Moscow, will create 80 new jobs.
The tensile strength of such wires is extremely high -comparable to steel, while its electrical conductivity is close to pure copper's. For those qualities, they are often called super wires," explained RUSNANO Executive Board Deputy Chairman Andrey Malyshev. "The cables are unmatched when both durability and electrical conductivity are required. They are used in powerful pulse magnets for scientific and industrial applications, contact cables for high-speed rail transport, aviation and space, shipbuilding, and electronics."
The wires' ultra high tensile strength, more than 500 MPa, is due to myriads of six- to ten-nanometer thick niobic nanowires in its structure. The products of the project company surpass all competitors in the market by this value. The electrical conductivity of the composite copper-niobic wires is only slightly below that of pure copper.
A number of foreign companies have already expressed interest in purchasing the Russian-produced super wires. In addition, the project company has signed agreements to supply shipbuilding companies with the cable.
The wires with tensile strength above 450 MPa and with electrical conductivity of 40 percent to 80 percent of the electrical conductivity of pure copper are called as super wires. RUSNANO's experts forecast that the global market for super wires will grow from $400 million in 2010 to $700 million in 2015.
The technology for sequential assembly of the bimetallic components of the semifinished product and its subsequent deformation, during which 6-nm to 10-nm ribbons of niobic fiber are introduced into the copper matrix (see illustration) was developed by scientists at VNIINM (also known as the Bochvar All-Russian Scientific Research Institute for Inorganic Materials) developed. The resulting composite wire contains approx. 400 million of such fibers in a cross section of two mm by three mm; it is the niobic fibers that lend the cable their high tensile strength. The short distance between fibers, comparable with the average free path of the electrons in the copper matrix, enable the cable to achieve electrical conductivity of 65 percent to 85 percent of pure copper.