NaturalNano, Inc., a materials science company, today announced the successful pilot-scale dispersion of the Company’s proprietary, functionalized halloysite nanotubes (HNT™) in polypropylene at levels ranging from 5% to 13%. Following closely on the recent production of a nylon Pleximer at the manufacturing scale, this latest result is another step toward a complete line of Pleximer products that will improve the mechanical properties of many polymer composites. Further trials with polypropylene will follow involving higher loadings of HNTs and production-scale equipment. Pleximer, which NaturalNano plans to offer commercially in fourth quarter 2007, is a turn-key nanocomposite additive enabling stronger, lighter, and less expensive materials for the $40 billion dollar polymer composite industry.
“We are very encouraged by this first pilot-scale demonstration of HNTs in polypropylene,” stated Cathy Fleischer, PhD, President and CTO of NaturalNano. She noted that historically it has been difficult to disperse nanoclays in polypropylene because of the polymer’s hydrophobic properties. “The fact that we can perform runs under standard machine conditions and get excellent dispersion is quite promising,” Fleischer said. The highly concentrated polypropylene Pleximer product would be added to pure polypropylene in the final molding process by the manufacturer to obtain nanocomposite materials with the desired properties for a wide range of applications, including automotive, fabrics, fibers, and packaging.
In addition to the excellent dispersion of HNTs in polypropylene, this trial run once again demonstrated the improved properties that Pleximer additives impart to polymer nanocomposite materials. The modulus - a measure of stiffness - of the polypropylene composite containing treated HNTs was almost double that of polypropylene alone. In addition to the extra stiffness, tensile strength was increased while maintaining the desirable elongation properties of the polymer.
Traditional layered nanoclays require extra processing and specialized equipment to separate the layers and disperse them throughout a polymer system. NaturalNano’s HNTs, utilizing the Company’s proprietary, patent-pending formulation and processes, do not require an extra separation step, and can be run on standard equipment, enabling manufacturers to produce nanocomposites without additional capital investment.