has begun work on the construction of a new facility for the production of carbon
nanotubes (CNTs) in Chempark Leverkusen. The new plant will have a capacity
of 200 tons/year, making it the largest of its kind in the world. The company
is to invest around EUR 22 million in the planning, development and construction
of the plant, which will create 20 new jobs.
"We are investing in a key technology of the future that will open up
a broad range of new applications for us. We intend to utilize this opportunity
to the full. At the same time, the construction of the new CNT facility is a
declaration of faith in Leverkusen and the State of North Rhine-Westphalia as
an industrial location," said Dr. Wolfgang Plischke, the member of the
Bayer AG Board of Management responsible for innovation, technology and the
environment, at a press conference to mark the start of construction. Current
forecasts predict that the global market for carbon nanotubes will grow by 25
percent a year. In ten years, annual sales of these products are expected to
reach US-Dollar 2 billion.
Following the official start of construction work, representatives of the
Innovationsallianz "CNT - carbon nanomaterials conquer markets" -
Inno.CNT - met in Chempark Leverkusen for their kick-off event. In this
alliance, which is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Education
and Research (BMBF), more than 70 partners from industry and science have
joined together to develop new technologies and applications for CNT-based
Bayer MaterialScience is one of the few companies that can produce carbon
nanotubes of consistently high quality on an industrial scale. A pilot
plant with an annual capacity of 60 tons has been in operation in
Laufenburg in southern Germany since 2007. Production involves a catalytic
process in which the carbon nanotubes are obtained from a carbon-containing
gas at elevated temperature in a reactor. "Bayer is investing in this,
world's largest CNT production plant, because we are convinced of the
technological and economic efficiency of the process," said Plischke.
With the company's know-how, Bayer can now take a product from the research
laboratory and smooth its progress into a broad spectrum of applications
relevant to society, such as energy, the environment, mobility, safety and
construction. Baytubes® - the brand name for Bayer's carbon nanotubes -
already being used to produce tough, extremely strong, lightweight
materials. This means, for example, that rotor blades for wind turbines are
more energy-efficient, that transport containers weigh less and that sports
equipment can be made more robust.
Innovationsallianz CNT to enhance competitiveness
Plischke also welcomed Thomas Rachel, Parliamentary State Secretary in the
BMBF - the ministry backing the project - to the event. Future developments
in the field of CNT-based materials are to focus on applications involving
energy and the environment, mobility and lightweight construction. A total
of EUR 80 million will be invested in research and development as part of
Inno.CT, of which the BMBF will contribute about EUR 40 million. In
addition, the participating companies want to invest up to EUR 200 million
in the further development of these technologies and applications during
the course of the projects and also after their conclusion.
Rachel pointed out that Germany and the European Union had set themselves
ambitious climate targets. To achieve them, he said, efficient and
responsible energy management was essential. The German government wanted
to significantly reduce energy consumption in Germany by 2020, and new
materials would make a major contribution to this.
Rachel: "Carbon nanotubes will play a particularly important role. They
offer all kinds of benefits, such as improving fuel and battery
technologies and reducing the weight of vehicles. To exploit the enormous
potential of these new materials, the German Federal Ministry for Education
and Research will fund the Innovationsallianz CNT to the tune of around EUR
40 million over a period of four years. This alliance will play a
significant part in implementing the Federal government's high-tech
strategy, through which we aim to strengthen Germany's competitiveness."
The main purpose of the two-day kick-off event in Leverkusen for the
alliance partners was to exchange technical ideas and coordinate further
cooperation on the project.