Plasan Sasa Ltd. (Kibbutz Sasa, Israel) has announced the formation of a new company in Israel to produce carbon nanotube fibers for the enhancement of body armor and composite armor systems for vehicles. TorTech Nano Fibers Ltd. is a joint venture company owned by Plasan and University of Cambridge (U.K.) spin-out company Q-Flo (Cambridge, U.K.). According to the agreement, Plasan will have exclusive sales and marketing rights to defense-orientated materials, while Q-Flo will retain rights for other potential applications.
“We believe Q-Flo’s carbon nanotubes have the potential to revolutionize the defense industry through a new range of lightweight, flexible and incredibly strong armored material,” said CEO of Plasan Group, Dan Ziv. “Through TorTech, we intend to produce a carbon nanotube-based yarn, which can be woven into the strongest-ever manmade material. Plasan’s expertise will then enable the design and production of a revolutionary new range of body and vehicle armor, " said Q-Flo’s CEO, Dr. Dai Hayward.
This is the first time the technology will be scaled up for industrial production. The current process for making the fiber is only capable of turning out 1g per day.
Professor Alan Windle and Dr. Martin Pick, who spun out Q-Flo in 2004, developed a process that winds fiber from an "elastic smoke" consisting of floating carbon nanotubes. The smoke is created by growing carbon nanotubes on tiny floating iron catalysts inside a reactor. The floating nanotubes entangle and create an "elastic smoke." This smoke can then be wound up into a continuous fiber using Q-Flo’s specially designed machine. While the material’s axial strength and stiffness is in the range of conventional carbon fiber, its toughness exceeds Kevlar by three times. At the same time it is also lighter in weight. Its yarn-like nature also means that it can be successfully woven into the matrix resin of composites.
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