Polymers and high performance plastics producer Bayer MaterialScience AG has begun construction of a new facility for the production of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in Chempark Leverkusen, Germany. The new plant will have a capacity of 200 tons/year. The company will invest about EUR 22 mln in the planning, development and construction of the plant. "Bayer MaterialScience AG is investing in a key technology of the future that will open up a broad range of new applications for us," said Joe Ventura, business development manager, Bayer MaterialScience LLC. A pilot plant with an annual capacity of 60 tons has been in operation in Laufenburg in southern Germany since 2007.
Production involves a catalytic process in which the carbon nanotubes are obtained from a carbon-containing gas at elevated temperature in a reactor. Bayer MaterialScience LLC recently obtained regulatory approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to sell Baytubes®, its multi-wall carbon nanotubes, in the U.S., reinforcing the company's role as one of the world's leading suppliers of carbon nanotubes. Baytubes®, the company's multi-walled carbon nanotubes, are already being used to produce tough, extremely strong, lightweight materials. This means, for example, that rotor blades for wind turbines are more energy efficient, that transport containers weigh less and that sports equipment can be made more robust.