David Kirkpatrick

March 29, 2008

Will carbon nanotubes replace copper wiring?

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:09 pm

I received email yesterday on a nanotech development. Nanocomp Technologies has been given an Air Force contract to develop electrically conductive wire and other materials from carbon nanotubes.

The major aspect of this contract is an effort to replace copper wiring and its attendant limitations — weighty, physically breaks down, etc. If Nanocomp Technologies is successful the entire aerospace industry will be one of the first beneficiaries of this development.

The release:

Nanocomp Technologies Awarded Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
Contract from United States Air Force

Project to Assess Carbon Nanotube Wiring for Improved Electrical Power
Generation and Alternatives to Traditional Copper Applications

CONCORD, N.H.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nanocomp Technologies, Inc.
(www.nanocomptech.com), a developer of energy-saving performance
materials and component products, today announced it has been awarded a
Phase One contract by the United States Air Force under the Department
of Defense’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The
intent of this SBIR project is to develop a new generation of very
lightweight, electrically conductive wires, cables and materials made
from carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Under Phase One, Nanocomp Technologies
will expand upon its current processing and manufacturing methods for
producing CNT sheets and spun conductors, composed of long-length CNTs,
to surpass established electrical performance standards required by
aerospace to replace traditional copper wiring.

Copper wiring is used in electronic harnesses because of its proven
history and excellent electrical conductivity. However, in modern
aerospace systems, wiring deficiencies are becoming more apparent as
functional demands increase. For example, today’s large satellites
weighing 15 tons or more derive one-third of their weight from copper
wiring harnesses. Similarly in commercial aircraft, a Boeing 747 uses as
much as 135 miles of copper wire and weighs more than 4000 lbs. Copper
wires also oxidize and corrode, are susceptible to vibration fatigue and
create premature electronics failures due to overheating conditions.

Nanocomp Technologies’ carbon nanotubes are already distinguished by
their long length-up to one millimeter. As a result, the company’s
products are significantly more conductive in end applications as
compared to short, powder-like nanotubes appearing in today’s market.
In early 2008, Nanocomp began producing large CNT sheets that not only
demonstrate value for a number of aerospace and electronics
applications, but also will integrate directly into existing
manufacturing processes in those industries.

“We are thrilled to have received this important program award from
the USAF,” said Peter Antoinette, president and CEO of Nanocomp
Technologies. “It is generally overlooked that modern satellites and
aircraft rely upon an invention from the 1800s – copper-based electrical
wires and cables. Our work can result in a true 21st century change in
the game, creating electrically optimized carbon nanotube wires and
cables, comparable to copper in terms of electrical conductivity but up
to 80 percent lighter and more robust. The result will be increased
mission capability for the Air Force and dramatic fuel savings for the
entire aerospace industry. The project demonstrates the U.S.
government’s commitment to enabling innovations in materials
science, and speaks to their confidence in our cutting edge efforts to
develop performance products that save energy.”

The SBIR program is funded by 12 federal agencies from their Research
and Development budgets. It is designed to simultaneously stimulate
technological innovation among private sector small businesses such as
Nanocomp Technologies and increase the commercialization of new
technology through federal R&D.

About Nanocomp Technologies, Inc.

Nanocomp Technologies, Inc. was formed in 2004 to leverage its
proprietary and fundamental advancements in the production of long
carbon nanotubes as well as a unique ability to fabricate them into
physically strong, lightweight and electro-thermally conductive yarns
and nonwoven sheets. The company’s objective is to develop products
with revolutionary performance benefits that would create a new
generation of advanced structural materials and electro-thermal devices.
It has 16 patents pending. The company is headquartered in Concord, N.H.
For additional information, please visit http://www.nanocomptech.com/.

Nanocomp and the Nanocomp logo are trademarks of Nanocomp Technologies,
Inc. All other marks are trademarks or registered trademarks of their
respective holders.