Newport News, VA – BNNT, LLC has just secured the Intellectual Property for making Fibril Boron Nitride Nanotubes (BNNT) and Fibril BxCyNz nanotubes commercially available.
Though BNNT was 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 and a process for Fibril BxCyNz was developed more recently.
Scientific research and commercial interest in Fibril BNNT/BxCyNz is expected to be high due their exceptional properties:
- 95% as strong as Carbon Nanotubes – CNT
- Maintain strength in air to over 800°C (CNT is 400°C)
- Electrically insulating; highly thermally conductive
- White/clear; functionizable
- Likely not cytotoxic
- Fibril BNNT: few wall; 1,000,000 to 1 : length to diameter
The techniques for synthesizing Fibril BNNT/BxCyNz were developed 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. While the initial quantities have been low, less than tens grams, the production techniques are readily scalable to levels of interest for commercial applications. Advanced production techniques are anticipated to increase production rates by more than a factor of 100. With properties as phenomenal as CNT and yet different, the Fibril BNNT/BxCyNz market is projected to grow to at least match the market for high end CNT market within a decade or sooner.
Anticipated product areas for Fibril BNNT/BxCyNz include:
- Polymer composites – Fibril BNNT composites very well with a wide range of polymers. While the scope of possibilities has only begun to be explored, this arena of BNNT enhanced composites is anticipated to have exceptional strength and thermal conductivity far beyond what currently exists in the market place with applications in areas such as armor including transparent armor, thin coatings, batteries and aerospace components.
- Ceramic composites – Keeping its strength to over 800°C in air, Fibril BNNT is projected to be the basis for a new generation of lightweight ceramic composites that should have a wide range of high temperature applications in systems such as jet engines. Low temperature ceramic applications could include dentistry.
- Biomedical – Preliminary research indicates that BNNT is not cytotoxic, Consequently the material may be useful in nano-textured cellular scaffolding for nerve and bone tissue regeneration, nanoscale drug vectors and delivery structures, and electroporation-based oncology therapies (cancer treatments).
- Electrically insulating – Thermally conductive electrically insulating ultra strong components will be possible with Fibril BNNT composites. In addition, BxCyNz is predicted to have attractive semiconducting properties.
- Radiation shielding – Fibril BNNT can be the basis for neutron shielding composites due to the presence of boron with its unique high efficiency for absorbing thermal neutrons. BNNT can also be used for UV shielding.
- Piezoelectric – Outstanding piezoelectric and electrostrictive properties are observed for Fibril BNNT. This combined with their exceptional strength will allow creation of nontoxic lightweight piezoelectric systems with better response and mechanical properties than current piezoelectric polymers. Fibril BNNT will be key to enhanced sensors and robotics including applications in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, harvesting energy and satellites.
- Fire retardant cabling – Flame resistant high strength cabling will be come available in expanded ranges of temperatures and operational environments. Including CNT cores will create high strength lightweight conductive cables.
Scientific investigation of BNNT is in its infancy and there are minimal IP or trade secrets for getting BNNT into commercial products. With Fibril BNNT/BxCyNz 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 IP, and be first to market for the diverse range of applications where Fibril BNNT/BxCyNz will be the basis for game changing products.
About National Institute of Aerospace
NIA is a non-profit research and graduate education institute formed by a consortium of leading research universities. The institute serves as a strategic partner with NASA Langley Research Center to conduct leading-edge aerospace and atmospheric research, develop new technologies for the nation and help inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. www.nianet.org
About BNNT, LLC
BNNT, LLC is a startup company based in Newport News, VA setting up to provide the Fibril BNNT and subsequently Fibril BxCyNz for scientific investigations, commercial product R&D and commercial products. The company is in the process of securing assets for going into production. Key staff includes the developers who created the new processes.