Fibril Boron Nitride Nanotubes Coming to Market from Newport News, VA

Newport News, VA – The Economic Development Authority of the City of Newport News, VA is making a $400K loan to BNNT, LLC for setting up manufacture of Fibril Boron Nitride Nanotube (BNNT) in the City. The facility will be the first in the world, making Newport News the first-to-market location for producing this revolutionary material.

Though BNNT were first produced in 1995, the material has been minimally available outside of a few research laboratories, as the initial production processes did not scale. However, a scalable process for synthesizing Fibril BNNT was developed a few years ago at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Jefferson Lab in Newport News, Virginia in collaboration with NASA Langley Research Center and the National Institute of Aerospace using the Office of Naval Research funded Free Electron Laser. BNNT, LLC has licensed the synthesis technology Intellectual Property from these three Joint Owners.

Fibril BNNT and the equally strong Carbon Nanotube (CNT) are the strongest fibers that you can make out of anything, ever. However, fibril CNT is not commercially available. Fibril BNNT looks like cotton and can be spun like cotton into thread or yarn. The material maintains its strength in air to over 800°C/1,500°F (CNT is 400°C/750°F) is electrically insulating, highly thermally conductive, white/clear, and, non-toxic to human cells based on the most recent studies.
With properties as phenomenal as CNT, and for many applications much better, Fibril BNNT sales are projected to grow to at least match those for comparable grades of CNT within a decade or less.

Anticipated product areas for Fibril BNNT include:

  • Polymer composites – Fibril BNNT composites very well with a wide range of polymers. While the possibilities have only begun to be explored, BNNT-enhanced polymer composites are anticipated to have exceptional strength and thermal conductivity far beyond what currently exists.
  • Ceramic composites – Keeping its strength to over 800°C in air, Fibril BNNT is projected to enable a new generation of lightweight ceramic composites that should have a wide range of high temperature applications.

  • Metal matrix composites – Fibril BNNTs might be used to strengthen a variety of metal alloys.
  • Biomedical – Preliminary research indicates that BNNT is not cytotoxic.  Studies suggest that it may be useful in drug delivery, nano-biology, and cancer treatments.  Adding BNNTs has already been shown to double the effectiveness of electroporation therapy in vitro, a treatment that kills cancer with electric fields.

  • Radiation shielding – Fibril BNNT can be the basis for neutron shielding composites due to the presence of boron, an element which efficiently absorbs thermal neutrons. BNNT can also be used for UV shielding.

  • Piezoelectric – Outstanding piezoelectric and electrostrictive properties are observed for Fibril BNNT. Fibril BNNT will be key to enhanced sensors and robotics including applications in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, energy harvesting, and satellites.

Scientific investigation of BNNT is in its infancy and there are minimal IP or trade secrets for commercial applications of BNNT. With Fibril BNNT becoming available, there will be significant opportunities for new scientific results and for companies to do BNNT R&D and product development, secure the associated Intellectual Property, and be first-to-market for the diverse range of applications where Fibril BNNT will be the basis for game changing products. BNNT, LLC plans on working with a number of local companies in all of these areas, thereby putting Newport News, VA at the center of a new Fibril BNNT nanotech corridor.

BNNT, LLC is a startup company based in Newport News, VA setting up to provide the Fibril BNNT for scientific investigations, commercial product R&D and commercial products. The company is in the process of securing assets for initiating production. Key staff includes the developers who created the new processes.