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Posted: November 5, 2007

Electrovac Group Goes Nano

(Nanowerk News) The Electrovac Group, an Austrian based compound material producer recently opened a second production facility for Electrovac Nanofibers® near Vienna, Austria. After running a batch process production for several years the very next step is now to change to a continuous production by applying the Chemical Vapor Disposition process. Together with the pilot plant the total capacity now exceeds 10 metric tons annually.
The new production facility of Electrovac an innovative continuous synthesis is taking the advantages of an optimized CVD-process and low costs of investment. But what makes the Electrovac’s process really sexy is that a certain hydrocarbon, a greenhouse gas, is used as raw material and carbon extracted therefore contributing to greenhouse gas reduction in the atmosphere.
„The investment in the new plant is an important step towards industrial CNF applications. It makes Electrovac one of the leading manufacturers of carbon nanofibers and underlines Electrovac’s reputation as an innovation-oriented company. The potential and future outlook of carbon nanofibers for industrial applications will ensure their success in the long run“ says Reinhard Kriegbaum, head of sales and marketing for nanotechnology in the Electrovac Group.
The market potential of carbon nanofibers is expected to be several thousand metric tons per year. The drawback of the CNF production so far has been the high costs as well as a discontinuous batch-process. In addition residues of catalysts have lead to a discontinuous quality.
The highly automated facility is used for research purposes and production. Main aim of development activities is to optimize the production process and procedures and to draw conclusions for the next up-scaling.
“CNF’s have excellent electrical and mechanical properties. They conduct electricity better than copper and in specific cases act like a semiconductor. Thermal conductivity can be compared with other materials like metals and diamond. Advantageous mechanic properties include high modulus of elasticity and tensile strength. And CNF contribute to the longterm performance of the polymers, replacement periods are reduced.” Says Robert Schwertner, product manager for nanotechnology developments of the Electrovac Group.
Electrovac has cooperations and partnerships with major players in the plastics industry like producers of raw materials, compounders as well as end-users. Objective is to create a better understanding on where and how to use this valuable carbon nanofiber substrate as additive. Electrovac offers several different types of plastics with carbon nanofiber-additives including PE, PP, SAN, ABS, Nylon6, Nylon12, PC, TPU, TPE, POM, PET and EVA.
“We see the plastics industry as one of the main future markets, there are hundreds of applications out there where CNF-plastics will bring advantages to the customer. ” says Reinhard Kriegbaum. He has several years of experience in the North American market and sees increased opportunities here as well as in Europe and Asia.
When it comes to applications several sectors are of interest. Industrial applications and machine parts take the lead. For instances industrial printers have to use antistatic plastic feeders as the paper sliding by causes electrostatic charging. To divert these charges antistatic plastics is the perfect solution. So far carbon black filled systems have been used, with the disadvantage of relatively high wear and abrasion and problems in the production process itself due to bow effects. By applying Electrovac Nanofibers® filled compounds abrasion can be excluded and deflection reduced to an acceptable minimum.
In the IT sector the chip production has a major constraint: particle contamination. By using waver carrier systems and waver handling components made from carbon nanofiber filled plastics a significant low contamination of particles can be reached.
Another promising future are plastic housing of computers and measurement devices. With more and more components packed into electronic devices and the small-is-beautiful trend of mobile phones, cameras and laptops, thermal management is of high importance as well as electrostatic discharge. Electrovac holds talks with leading players on the development of a new generation of laptop housings with improved mechanical and thermal properties, where a huge market will open soon.
Electrovac’s thermal grease elNano® is another product sold to the IT industry. This thermally conductive paste consists of a specific epoxy resin and carbon nanofibers. Thermal grease is applied in the chip industry to dissipate heat from the chip to the heatsink. And here nanotechnology is showing its strength. The space between the chip and the heatsink is only some micrometers. Conventional greases using aluminum or silver are too thick to fit into this space. Electrovac’s elNano® paste has been designed especially for small bond line thicknesses, due to the thin nanofibers it smoothly fits into the space and perfectly dissipates the heat. In the automotive sector where CNF applications concentrates on electro-painting, Electrovac Nanofibers® could be added to plastics, used for bodywork components. These components – for example fenders made from a polyphenylene oxide/polyamide blend – would then painted without a conductive primer, thus resulting in significant cost savings.
Electrovac develops also material for fuel containers for cars. Safety regulations require car producers to install antistatic fuel container. In the past, metal did a good job, but with the trend to build lighter cars plastics are now used. Plastic, a natural insulator when not made antistatic, can cause electric charging during fuelling and thus cause in explosion in the worst case. New regulations will soon force producers of fuel containers to apply carbon nanofibers.
Besides the excellent properties for technical application also designers fell in love with the new nano-material. Design elements of consumer goods often need to be light, thin, gracile and with excellent surface qualities. Due to the nature of carbon nanofiber, plastics are reduced in its weight and therefore enable designers to work with smaller diameters, thin cross sections and elegant, shining surfaces.
The Electrovac Group
The Electrovac Group has worldwide more than 1000 employees and 2006 an annual turnover exceeding 120 Mio USD, her headquarter is Klosterneuburg near music city Vienna, Austria/Europe.
Besides the nanotechnology Electrovac develops technologies for bonding a variety of materials (metals, glass, ceramics, carbon nanofibers) to create resources that are uniquely able to withstand temperature fluctuations. The components manufactured in this way are used in all areas of living and tolerate great variations in pressure, extreme fluctuations in temperatures and extraordinary forces in acceleration while maintaining their capacities to function permanently and reliably.
These components guarantee that cooking surfaces do not overheat (thermostats), airbags open at the right moment (glass to metal seals), and electronic power steering components work perfectly (DBC substrates).
The ability to produce prototypes within shortest times as well as the company’s many years of experience in production automation help you as a customer reduce your “time to market”
Source: Electrovac