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NaturalNano has completed a 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 NaturalNano say 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 moulding process by the manufacturer to obtain nanocomposite materials with the desired properties for a wide range of applications, including automotive, fabrics, fibres, and packaging.
In addition to the dispersion of HNTs in polypropylene, this trial run demonstrated the improved properties that Pleximer additives impart to polymer nanocomposite materials. The modulus of the polypropylene composite containing treated HNTs was almost double that of polypropylene alone. According to NaturalNano, tensile strength was also increased while maintaining the desirable elongation properties of the polymer.
NaturalNano has also received a $3.25 million cash investment from Platinum Partners Long Term Growth IV and Longview Special Financing. NaturalNano intends to use the bulk of the funds to complete the commercialization of Pleximer polymer additives.
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