Editorial Feature

Nanotechnology Opportunities for the Advanced Manufacturing Industry

Manufacturing is Australia's largest export earner. This includes 45% output from Advanced Manufacturing. The Advanced Manufacturing Sector is the fastest growing category of export earners with an annual average growth rate of over 10% in the past ten years. Advanced Manufacturing accounted for $21.1 billion (18.3 per cent) of all Australian exports in 2001.

In many Advanced Manufacturing fields, Australian manufacturers are world leaders. It is noteworthy that this includes advanced nanomaterials capability.

Opportunities for Nanotechnology

Opportunities for the application and production of nanotechnologies in Advanced Manufacturing industries lie in the following:

  • Carbon Nanotubes
  • Nanoparticles/Nanopowders
  • Nanocoatings

Nanotechnology Victoria - Carbon Nanotubes Facility

Nanotechnology Victoria is leading a consortium with two other partners (Monash University and a local industrial company) in setting up a carbon nanotubes facility that caters to the needs of Australian researchers, R&D firms and industries. This facility is situated on the Monash University Clayton campus.

The carbon nanotubes facility is capable of producing both single wall nanotube (SWNT) and multi-wall nanotube (MWNT) through a chemical vapour deposition process. The facility includes equipment for purifying and functionalising of nanotubes.

Primarily the facility is for R&D, with the produced nanotubes being integrated into a range of other host materials and then examined to understand the behaviour of the composite materials. The emphasis is on the usefulness of carbon nanotubes in imparting desired properties (such as mechanical, electrical, or chemical).

Other Advanced Manufacturing Participants

Nanoparticles/Nanopowders Manufacturing

Australia and Victoria have a very active and sophisticated industry built around the manufacture of small particles - at mirco and nano scale and incorporation of these in consumer and industrial products. Key companies include:

  • Micronisers Pty Ltd (Vic) Based in Dandenong, Micronisers has been active for nearly a decade, producing zinc oxide and other metal oxide powders at nanoscale. Micronisers has performed extensive development with CSIRO, and leverages the optical properties of ZnO in sunscreens and fade-resistant coatings.
  • Australian Micropowders (Vic) Also based in Dandenong, Australian Micropowders produces nano and micro sized materials for use in the food industry.
  • Advanced NanoTechnology (WA) Located in Perth, ANT has a major partnership with Samsung Corning, and leverages optical properties of nano-powders of metal oxides in sunscreens and paint additives.
  • The Very Small Particle Company (Qld) The Brisbane-based USPC supplies export markets with sophisticated multi-metal oxides at nanoscale, leveraging the catalytic properties.

Nanocoating Industries

Industries and University researchers across Australia have developed nanocoating technologies that are finding wide variety of applications.

  • The Australian Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) for Polymers based in Victoria in collaboration with Olex has developed a world-leading polymer composite technology that protects electrical cables from heat and fire. A The technology involves a unique polymer that converts into ceramic when exposed to heat or fire, and is used by Olex in coating the plastic insulation around electric wires.
  • Advanced Nanotechnolgy's NanoZ product is a coating made up of ZnO nanopowders that provides superior UV protection. This also provides anti-fungal properties to wood and plastic surfaces.
  • Bottle Magic Australia Pty Ltd produces glass bottle and packaging coatings that enhances the shelf life of products by protecting against UV.

Source: NanoVic

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