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Bayer MaterialScience is opening a second production facility for Baytubes, its carbon nanotubes, at H.C. Starck GmbH in Laufenburg on the German-Swiss border.
The new facility has an annual capacity of 30 metric tons. Together with the pilot production plant for Baytubes already located at the site, this now gives Bayer MaterialScience a total annual capacity of 60 metric tons in Laufenburg. Dr. Tony Van Osselaer, the member of the Board of Management of Bayer MaterialScience responsible for Production & Technology, told customers from all over the world who attended the opening ceremony: “This makes us one of the world’s leading manufacturers of carbon nanotubes and underlines our excellent credentials as a research-oriented company. Carbon nanotubes’ potential for innovation will ensure their long-term market success.”
Estimates put the market potential for carbon nanotubes (CNT) in the coming years at several thousand metric tons per year. The main disadvantages of CNT production processes to date have been the high costs of synthesis and the relatively large quantities of unwanted impurities in the product. These two problems have prevented the widespread industrial use of carbon nanotubes. Thanks to a special new synthesis process, Bayer MaterialScience says that it is one of the few manufacturers able to offer commercially relevant quantities of CNT with consistent material purities well above the 95 percent mark. “The investment in Laufenburg represents an important step towards gaining access to large, lucrative industrial CNT applications and securing long-term market share,” said Martin Schmid, head of global Baytubes operations at Bayer MaterialScience.
The new, highly automated closed-loop facility is used for production and for development work to optimize processes and procedures. “Our aim is to use the knowledge obtained for the next up-scaling of the production process,” explained Dr. Ralph Weber, Production Manager for Carbon Nanotubes, who shares responsibility for the operation and further development of the facility in Laufenburg with Dr. Theo König from H.C. Starck. In the medium term, Bayer MaterialScience is planning to build a large-scale Baytubes production facility in Germany with an annual capacity of 3,000 metric tons.
The image shows the control room of the new Baytubes® production facility showing the top of the fluidized bed reactor.
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