By Gary Thomas
The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $999,990 Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to Applied Nanotech for the development of ultra-light hydrogen fuel tanks utilizing carbon nanotube reinforcement.
The 24-month program will focus on considerably enhancing the mechanical properties of the carbon fiber/epoxy material utilized in the fabrication of hydrogen fuel tanks using carbon nanotube reinforcement. The objective of the program is to achieve a 20% or more weight reduction in the hydrogen fuel tanks. This in turn reduces the tank costs and improves the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. This technology also holds potential in compressed natural gas tanks.
Applied Nanotech manufactures carbon nanotube reinforced polymers to develop fiber composites for a variety of applications. Yonex utilizes Applied Nanotech technology to fabricate ultra-light golf club shafts and badminton racquets. Recently, Applied Nanotech introduced CNTstix, a portfolio of ultra-strong structural epoxy adhesives.
Applied Nanotech’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Zvi Yaniv stated that nanocomposite materials represent a significant share of the company’s business. The company is working aggressively to commercialize its technology in a broad range of industries such as recreation and sports, for products like snowboards, bicycles and fishing rods, and for vehicle and body protection products such as body armor, helmets and helicopter and vehicle ballistic armor. With the annual production capacity of 10-12 tons of carbon nanotube reinforced epoxy resin at the company’s Austin facility, the new product resulting from the SBIR Phase II program can be rolled out immediately in the marketplace.
Applied Nanotech’s Vice President of Engineering, Dr. Dongsheng Mao stated that the company together with different organizations from a variety of industries is involved in the development of customized composite materials to enhance the underlying products of its potential customers. The company expects more such contracts from the government for nanocomposite research.