Bayer highlights carbon nanotubes in three new applications

Bayer's Baytubes multi-wall carbon nanotubes help improve weight and strength properties for wind turbine blades and other products.

Related Suppliers

At the recent 2009 Nanotech Conference, Bayer MaterialScience (Pittsburgh, Pa., USA) showcased a number of technical innovations based on its new Baytubes multi-wall carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Bayer MaterialScience featured a number of new industrial applications containing Baytubes that have been developed in collaboration with some of its partners for the chemical, mechanical engineering, sporting goods and electrical/electronics industries.

"Based on the example of a new CNT-reinforced aluminum powder and rotor blades for wind turbines, we wanted to demonstrate in Houston the tremendous possibilities our carbon nanotubes open up, for example, in the field of lightweight construction," explained the head of the global Baytubes business, Martin Schmid. "Weight reduction," he added, "results in much improved energy efficiency and a better CO2 balance.

Bayer reports that reinforced composite materials based on Baytubes and aluminum powder offer entirely new design opportunities in lightweight construction. For example, CNT components have higher mechanical strength, which means they can be produced with thinner walls and therefore weigh less than their counterparts of non-reinforced aluminum. The tensile strength of this new class of materials is similar to that of steel, but it weighs only half as much because of its lower density. Bayer says this qualifies it as a lightweight alternative to steel in many demanding applications – for example in the manufacture of components for sports equipment or heavy-duty bolts and screws. With its high thermal conductivity it also has many potential applications in the energy, electrical and computer industries. "Cooling elements made of CNT-reinforced aluminum could dissipate the heat from electrical devices much more efficiently. This would make it possible, for example, to significantly increase the performance of processors and computers," says Schmid.

The length of the rotor blades in wind turbines is limited by their weight. Rotor blades manufactured from the new composite material based on carbon and glass fiber-reinforced epoxies with carbon nanotubes are 10 to 30 percent lighter and also stronger than straight epoxy systems, Bayer reports. The material's impact strength, for example, is 20 to 30 percent higher, and its fatigue properties are 50 to 200 percent better. "Thanks to this outstanding set of properties, rotor blades made of this new composite material can be made longer, which significantly raises the output of wind power plants," noted Schmid.