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Projects Support Commercialization of Lightweight Carbon Nanotube Wiring

Published on April 21, 2009 at 7:33 PM

Nanocomp Technologies, Inc., a developer of energy saving performance materials and component products from carbon nanotubes (CNTs), today announced that it has been awarded two new contracts by the United States Air Force under the Department of Defense's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

The light weight and conductive nature of CNTs make them extremely attractive for many aerospace applications. To date, however, most development activities have taken place on a small scale with ineffective results due to performance, production and cost limitations. As a result, integrating CNT macrostructures into large-scale trials has not yet been achieved. Nanocomp’s materials and production capabilities leave these barriers behind.

The first SBIR award builds upon Nanocomp’s successful demonstration, accomplished under a Phase I contract awarded in early 2008, of the use of lightweight conductive wires made from CNTs. During Phase II, Nanocomp will work toward optimizing processing and manufacturing methods to produce CNT wiring in the quantities and forms required for direct integration into aircraft electric power applications.

The Air Force awarded Nanocomp the second SBIR contract to develop carbon nanotube mats as a viable substitute for nickel-based conductors in electrostatic discharge (ESD) and electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding applications. This Phase I research has been designated as a “critical program,” indicating that the government places a high degree of importance on the research. The goals of this program are to optimize the properties of CNT sheet materials to meet shielding requirements, develop a process to integrate the mats into existing commercial EMI / ESD shielding systems, and develop on-line production quality-control methods.

“The nature and importance of these projects demonstrates the unique potential of our material as the basis for creating game-changing yet cost-effective replacements for traditional aerospace components,” said Peter Antoinette, president and CEO of Nanocomp Technologies. “We’ve proven that the performance of CNT wiring is superior to that of copper for high frequency applications, with dramatic weight savings. The critical next piece of moving to commercialization is optimizing our manufacturing process for wire and cable applications. We also look forward to making substantial progress toward successfully demonstrating an ultra lightweight CNT based solution for ESD and EMI shielding.”

The SBIR program is funded by 12 federal agencies from their research and development budgets. It is designed to simultaneously stimulate technological innovation among private sector small businesses such as Nanocomp Technologies and to increase the commercialization of new technology through federal R&D.

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