At the "NanoSolutions" trade fair in Cologne from November 28 to 30, 2006, Bayer MaterialScience and Bayer Technology Services will be showing how Bayer is successfully using the potential for innovation offered by nanotechnology . Bayer’s participation in the fair will focus on Baytubes® carbon nanotubes (CNTs). A cost-effective production process has been developed for these that paves the way for their introduction into industrial applications. "Our presence here in Cologne is primarily intended to make a broad specialist audience aware of the undreamed-of opportunities that Baytubes® offer," explains Martin Schmid, head of the new Baytubes® operations at Bayer MaterialScience. "For example, they make plastics conductive and improve their stiffness and strength. The latter characteristics are already being utilized in the production of various sports goods such as ice hockey sticks and baseball bats." Baytubes® also have great potential in the production of rotor blades for wind turbine plants. Large components like these made from carbon fiber-reinforced epoxy resins could be made thinner and therefore lighter by using carbon nanotubes, thus increasing the specific output of the power plants. Carbon nanotubes are also in great demand as a conductibility additive in the production of anti-static packaging, which is used, for example, to package sensitive electronic components.
Until now, the synthesis costs for CNTs often significantly exceeded EUR 1,000 per kilogram, while product quality fluctuated. However, the production process developed by Bayer Technology Services enables Baytubes® to be manufactured at a consistent material purity of over 95 percent and at greatly reduced costs. "We want to use the trade fair to showcase our strengths as an industrial manufacturer and supplier of carbon nanotubes,"
comments Schmid. "We can then use our polymer know-how to support our customers in integrating Baytubes® into various plastics. One focus of this work concerns dispersion in different materials and the test methods related to this." Bayer MaterialScience operates a pilot plant for the production of Baytubes® with an annual capacity of 30 tons, but an industrial-scale plant with an annual capacity of 3,000 tons is planned.
Bayer Technology Services is presenting its comprehensive nanotechnology know-how and service portfolio at "NanoSolutions". As well as covering the development of cost-effective processes for synthesizing and isolating customized nanoparticles such as the above-mentioned Baytubes®, this also involves the modification and processing of nanoparticles in the context of application development and the characterization of nanoparticles. "The interplay of synthesis development, application development and characterization enables us to develop innovative products that have been efficiently functionalized for our customers using nanotechnology on an industrial scale," explains Dr. Axel Eble, Head of Product Design & Nanotechnology at Bayer Technology Services. As well as developing new materials, this is also of relevance to the electronics industry and life sciences sectors such as pharmaceuticals, food, cosmetics and crop protection. For example, nanophosphors are being introduced for diagnostic applications.
"Although we have long been familiar with nanotechnology, it is only in recent years that the synergies have become well-known enough in many industries to enable us to fully utilize its potential for our customers in new product developments," comments Eble.
Dr. Péter Krüger, Head of the Bayer Nanotechnology Working Group, will be providing an overview of nanotechnology activities in all Bayer subgroups during a lecture he will give at the fair. The lecture will be held on November 30, 2006 at 12 noon in the "Key Note Arena" at the exhibition venue.
Another key area of Bayer’s involvement at the fair will be the company’s wide-ranging research activities relating to the safe and responsible use of nanomaterials. This will cover aspects including the company’s commitment to numerous initiatives such as the "NanoCare" project. This research project, supported by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), brings together the know-how of 13 companies, universities and research facilities. They will work together to develop generally accepted measuring and testing methods that can be utilized to analyze the safety issues relating to nanomaterials. Bayer is also involved in various working groups organized by the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) and in the "Responsible Production and Use of Nanomaterials" working group of the German Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (DECHEMA).