Made in Belgium | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 12 | p. 5 | Letters
Issue Date: March 24, 2008

Made in Belgium

Department: Letters

In "Carbon Nanotubes by the Metric Ton," Ann M. Thayer refers to "Soci??t?? Nanocyl" and describes its development with great accuracy (C&EN, Nov. 12, 2007, page 29).

Soci??t?? Nanocyl is a spin-off of both Belgium's University of Namur and University of Liège. These two universities are among Nanocyl's shareholders. This is clearly indicated on the company's website at and

The nuclear magnetic resonance lab of the University of Namur, under the direction of J. B. Nagy, designed the first catalyst able to produce carbon nanotubes (CNT) on a large scale (4 kg CNT/kg catalyst from ethylene).

Researchers in the chemical engineering laboratory of the University of Liège, under my direction, designed and developed, from 1999 to 2002, a 2-kg-per-day prototype continuous reactor. Patents are already delivered in several countries. This is the type of reactor that Nanocyl started up in mid-2005 for 15-kg-per-day production and, in 2007, for an annual capacity of 40 metric tons. Furthermore, in 2006, the same laboratory, still under my direction, designed and developed a new catalyst that makes it possible to achieve very high productivity using natural gas. This new catalyst has been used in the industry since the beginning of 2008.

I must note that the University of Liège is too often left out when Nanocyl is presented in the press. I am all the more dismayed that the present expansion of Nanocyl is mostly the outcome of the work carried at the University of Liège since 1999, whereas the University of Namur is no longer active in that field.

Jean-Paul Pirard
Liège, Belgium

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