Perth company to commence carbon nanotube production next month

Eden Energy through its wholly-owned US-based subsidiary, Hythane claims to have made major breakthroughs in the time and costs associated with the production processes used in the manufacture from natural gas of both hydrogen and super-strong, super-light, and highly conductive nano-carbon products.

 These products are said to have widescale application across many industrial and manufacturing sectors on developing commercial uses for the nano-carbon products.

This production laboratory includes a self-contained clean production room with an industrial air handling system. Two reactors are being readied for trials, leading to annual commercial scale production of up to 100 tonnes of carbon nanofibers and 33 tonnes of hydrogen.

Both the 24” and 36” reactors are being assembled and tested simultaneously in the Carbon Room. The construction on both is finished and they are going through a barrage of safety and operational testing before any catalyst or Natural Gas is introduced.

The reactors can be remotely monitored, and incorporate a range of monitors including a pressure monitor and a flammable gas detector. Leak checking and control testing are nearing completion, and initial test production is scheduled for the last week of August 2011.

Processes to mix the nano-carbon materials with polymers have been developed and mixtures with various percentages of carbon are being tested to compare the amount of carbon with the volume resistivity.

•	Positive Epoxy Composite Test Results -confirm suitability of Eden’s carbon nanotubes for ESD applications utilizing epoxy as a matrix material.

Hythane Company has completed its initial conductive paint study, using carbon nanotubes, with  favourable results. Resistivity was measured over a range of carbon nanotube loadings, with a minimum surface resistivity of < 8*10^4 Ohm/sq (less than the lower limit of the test equipment) being achieved at certain loadings.

The resistivity of each carbon loading closely mimics previous results, indicating that the carbon nanotubes are suitable for Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) applications. It can be used in coatings to avoid a build–up of potentially damaging static electrical charges which can cause serious damage particularly in electronic components and assemblies and possibly also for applications to avoid Electromagnetic and Radio Frequency Interference (EMI and RFI). It could be similarly used to protect electrical circuits from damage or interference from electromagnetic radiation.

Hythane Company is also finishing its epoxy composite test program. Initial results are positive, with minimum volume resistivities in the range of 10^5 to 10^7 Ohm*m.

Techniques were investigated to ensure adequate dispersion of the carbon. Initial testing was performed on high-strength, 60 and 80 megapascal mixtures loaded with carbon nano-fibers of up to 2% of the cement weight. Initial testing included compressive strength only and showed increases of up to 10% but did not demonstrate a clear trend correlating to percent carbon loading.

It is now believed to be more difficult to see an increase in compressive strength with high strength concrete compared with changes in its other properties. As a result, the research plan has been revised and will now also include lower strength concrete mixtures (M20 and M30) as well as expanded testing to investigate transport and ductility properties of concrete beyond compression. This testing should be completed in Q4 2011.

Flexural strength is important in concrete design because it is involved in determining beam sizes and amounts of rebar necessary to support a span. It is expected that the carbon nanofibres will bridge microscopic cracks within the concrete matrix, requiring increased energy for crack propagation.

This equates to more years in service with fewer maintenance life costs. Flexural strength results are expected to illustrate a clear trend of beneficial carbon loading percentages and optimal concrete mixture designs. This testing should be completed in Q1 2012.

A laboratory, which serves the tyre industry, will perform process, physical, dynamic, and application-specific tests with various loading levels of nano-carbon materials in a representative tyre rubber compound.

Seven sample batches will be mixed and cured for a range of tests including viscosity, hardness, tensile strength, elongation strength, and abrasion and tear resistance. Final data and reporting is expected by October 2011.

Samples of both carbon nanotubes and carbon nanofibres for testing purposes have been provided or sold to a number of different industries including for testing in batteries, electronic paper and other applications.

The testing will take between one and three months after which Hythane Company anticipates that it will be able to assess the reaction of these particular markets.

The initial catalyst production system is operating and capable of producing sufficient catalyst to produce 3 to 4 tonnes per year of carbon nanotubes or 20 to 30 tonnes per year of carbon nanofibres.

Catalyst production will be scaled up progressively as demand increases, to match the anticipated large-scale carbon production needs as the units are fully developed and deployed over the next one to two years. 

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