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Companies Invest In Nanotubes

September 10, 2007 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 85, Issue 37

Nanotailor, an Austin, Texas-based start-up, has licensed a NASA process for producing single-walled carbon nanotubes. The nanotechnology industry now relies primarily on multiwalled nanotubes because single-walled tubes are prohibitively expensive to make. However, NASA claims that its technology, developed at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., yields much cheaper tubes, in part because its process doesn't use a metal catalyst. Nanotailor says it has built a prototype nanotube fabrication system based on the NASA process and that it plans to have commercial quantities by the end of 2007. "All industries currently using multiwalled tubes will be able to benefit from this technology," says Reginald Parker, Nanotailor's chief technology officer. NASA earlier licensed the single-wall technology to Idaho Space Materials of Boise, Idaho, and the Baltimore-area firm E-City NanoTechnologies. Meanwhile, Bayer MaterialScience has opened a second facility for its Baytube brand multiwalled carbon nanotubes. The Laufenburg, Germany, facility has an annual capacity of 30 metric tons and doubles the company's capacity to 60 metric tons per year. Bayer says the expansion makes it one of the world's leading manufacturers of carbon nanotubes. It plans eventually to build a large-scale Baytube facility in Germany with an annual capacity of 3,000 metric tons.


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