The Development of Nanomaterials - An Interview with MetaMateria Partners

AZoM conducted a series of interviews at the MS&T 07 trade exhibition in Detroit between September 17 and 18. Here's what one of the exhibitors had to say when asked about their latest developments, products and technologies.

Interviewee: Richard Shaw, President of MetaMateria Partners, subsidiary of NanoDynamics
Interviewer: Cameron Chai, AZoNano

AZoNano:This is Cameron Chai here from AZoNano.com reporting from the MS&T Trade Show in Detroit. And I've got with me Richard Shaw who's the President of MetaMateria Partners which is a subsidiary of NanoDynamics. Welcome Richard, how are you going?

MetaMateria: I'm doing very well, thank you.

AZoNano: Good to hear. How's the trade show going for you so far?

MetaMateria: Pretty good. Could use a few more customers coming by though.

AZoNano: I think we could all use a few more customers, especially the paying type.

MetaMateria: Absolutely.

AZoNano: So Richard, tell me what do MetaMeteria Partners do?

MetaMateria: Well we're involved in the making and using of nanomaterials, especially applying them for different applications. We've got a couple of new developments. One is in the area of water clean up material where we basically have a porous ceramic that's filled with nanomaterials and it's very reactive and it takes things like arsenic and lead and other contaminants that you would find in water out much faster than conventional materials, which basically lowers the cost not only of the product but also of the capital cost that you would have to have to support that product out in the field.

AZoNano: And so you were telling me before that the process that you use to deposit the materials is a wet chemical type process?

MetaMateria: It's a wet chemical type process. We basically grow the nanomaterials on to the pores of this ceramic that we make and it creates a forest of nanoparticles that the water has to come in contact as it flows through the media.

AZoNano: And you were also telling me that using this process, you were able to tailor the coating materials for various applications?

MetaMateria: Yes. Some materials break down better with some chemistry than others. For example, iron type compounds will take out arsenic, but they may not be very good for taking out hydrogen sulphide. And so ¡K but on the other case, manganese dioxide was very good for that. So what we do, depending on what the contaminant is, we actually deposit those types of nanomaterials inside the pores of our ceramic.

AZoNano: And so what stage is this product at now?

MetaMateria: Right now it's out in the field for testing. We have several units that are being used both for hydrogen sulphide removal, removal of iron and arsenic, breaking down of phosphates compounds. These are the kinds of applications that we have.

AZoNano: What other application do you see for this material? Things like third world countries where water purity's not very good, or maybe the cleaning up of mining tailings dams and things like that?

MetaMateria: That's right. Actually there's quite a ... most metals you can remove by these processes. There are places in China, for example, where hydrogen sulphide on whole lakes which represent all the water give a ... I mean it's a very odorous type of thing and so this is a good opportunity. There are places in Bangladesh in Northern India where some 30,000 people or more die a year just from arsenic poisoning. So these are the kinds of areas that we think this product, 'cause it's a very cost effective product to go into.

AZoNano: Very good. And now you were also telling me about another product that you'd recently developed, nanocement.

MetaMateria: Yes. This is the same chemistry as regular cement except the particles are about 100 nanometres in size, which means they're very reactive and we developed this about a year and a half ago. We've been working with several customers. And what we find is that when you substitute maybe up to 10% of this material for regular cement, you get increased strength. We've had increased strength up to 200% higher concrete than when you just use regular cement. We also can adjust the setting time, cause cementing to set off faster. And so these are some of the advantages of using this. The process is fairly economical. We're in the process of looking at building a manufacturing facility now to scale it up to make several million pounds a month.

AZoNano: Whereabouts are you going to build the manufacturing facility?

MetaMateria: It's actually going to be built at NanoDynamics up in Buffalo, Ohio ... in Buffalo, New York, excuse me.

AZoNano: Very good. So just out of interest, on a more general note, have you had much opposition or much controversy over here to do with nanotechnology and the potential of nanotoxological effects of nanoparticles?

MetaMateria: Well I think it's a concern. The reality is that nanomaterials have been around for hundreds of years. We just don't really ... we didn't know how to measure them at that time. I think a lot of the early studies are showing that there's not a lot of effect, but it's like any area, there's probably going to be certain chemistries and certain particle sizes where it's going to be a problem. I doubt if we'll find that nanomaterials by themselves are a problem, it's just going to be certain classes of nanomaterials.

AZoNano: So you think maybe through better education, that type of thing, people will realise that nanomaterials, there's benefits to them as ...

MetaMateria: We don't want to scare people, but for example, we're doing work in batteries, applying nanomaterials for batteries where the batteries charge faster. Now if I put that in a battery that's contained in a case, it's very unlikely that the nanomaterials are ever going to be in the environment. So here's a case where you get a better performing battery but you wouldn't have any exposure. So those will be good applications initially too.

AZoNano: That's good to hear. I think you're echoing the sentiments of most people out there who know a little bit about nanotechnology and think that it's not necessarily, or certainly not a bad thing as long as we sort of create a better understanding, there's lots of benefits to be had.

MetaMateria: I think that's true, right.

AZoNano: Well Richard, thanks very much for spending a few minutes with us and we hope that the rest of the trade show is a success for you.

MetaMateria: Thank you. My pleasure.

Date Added: Jul 16, 2008 | Updated: Jun 11, 2013
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