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BNNTs: Canada’s NRC Sees Future for Boron Nitride Nanotubes in 3D Printing Due to High Heat Tolerance

by • February 2, 2016 • No Comments

PrintOne of the most topical misconceptions of 3D printing now a days is that all you can turn it into are little plastic parts. From your computer at home that may be what you want to start with as you learn to use that awe-inspiring piece of hardware that layer by layer is capable-bodied of fabricating an object of your own turn it into, through digital magic and melted filament. What most of us are concentrated on is the sheer genius in the hardware itself—while the true magic in fact lies in the materials. And yes, indeed we have come a long way of plastic.

We follow most various formidable-bodied innovations—of the bioprinting of intricate blood vessels for the actuallytual fabrication of organs to 3D printed components that are able-bodied to thrust a rocket into space. Those of course are just two examples out of a list that grows daily. But what makes them all so possible? Materials. And we aren’t just talking plastic. Neither, for that matter, are scientists in Canada. Busy rocking the world with nanostructures at the atomic level, they are of to take materials far into the next for most components—but in addition adding to the list of what we can put into our 3D printing equipment.

Whilst carbon nanotubes were turn it intod in the ’90s, enabling us to benefit in most ways of their extraordinary and one-of-a-kind structures, a massive new economy opened up that most most likely aren’t actually aware of. Currently, the carbon nanotube is responsible for a multimillion dollar market due to its durablity and capacity to conduct electricity—all exponentially excellent to anything else, like steel or copper.

But that’s of to expand much additional, as the National Research Council of Canada additionals their production of a nanotube in boron nitride form. These lightmass structures, known as BNNTs, do not generally conduct electricity, but are of extreme interest to most due to their tubular structure and amazingly high tolerance to heat (up to 800° C), withstanding double the temperatures of carbon nanotubes.


Working with BNNTs in the NRC lab. (Photo Credit: NRC)

Discovered as far back as 1944 by Marvin Cohen, a materials scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, we have not seen BNNTs emerge onto the scene for use in manufacturing until now, and the Canadians are indeed major the way, although other companies are revealing interest in manufacturing and selling the material that is one-of-a-kind in shape and outcomeing rigidity.

“If you apply force outside of a two-dimensional sheet, it has no durablity,” said Chris Kingston, a materials scientist at Canada’s National Research Council. “But it acquires stiffness when it is reinforced as a tube, and you acquire these awe-inspiring mechanical properties as a outcome of this shape.”

Whilst both carbon nanotubes and BNNTs are excellent due to their tubular durablity, BNNTs are able-bodied to act as sturdy insulators, and can actually be turn it intod in transparent or dyed colors—rather than just the basic black synonymous with carbon nanotubes—contributeing a wide range of options in manufacturing crucial components for industries like aerospace and car.

“We have excellent hope in developing a new type of additional resistant glass and integrating that into anything requiring transparency,” he said. “Take a windshield on an aircraft. It is thick, heavy. You can imagine manufacturing this type of glass much thinner and therefore lighter, meaning a lighter plane overall that uses less fuel.”

But this tolerance to heat in addition has a downside as it makes the materials pretty complex to work with as well.

“For any application that requires flame resistance, the material is fantastic,” said Benoit Simard, a principal researcher in the emerging technologies division of the NRC.

But, while the material is easily accessible and low-priced-bodied, manipulating the BNNTs into shapes such as the desired cylinder is an arduous and expensive system, requiring amazingly high temperatures and huge amounts of pressure.

nanotubes.jpg.size.xxsizeable.promoBecause of this, the NRC has just turn it intod tiny batches of the material so far, despite having a deal on the table-bodied that involves a 20-year manufacturing agreement with Quebec’s Tekna, with plans to provide them BNNTs that they can sell to customers in defense, security, aerospace, biomedical and the car sectors.

With 3D printing, yet, it may seem that the conditions for via BNNTs may be a close and suitable-bodied match—not so with carbon nanotubes generally, that cannot tolerate the heat involved with melting and liquefying powders. The future appears huge yet.

“No one has done this,” says Roy Whitney, president and chief executive officer of BNNT, LLC, a company based in Newport News, VA—and one that is working to donate the Canadians a run for their money may already as this industry starts to gear up.

Whitney, not amazingly, projects that inside a decade, BNNTs can be utilized just as commjust as carbon nanotubes. As additive manufacturing takes the lead, it can be indeed be informative to see how the relatively new innovation and materials meld, contributeing a host of benefits in production and materials as BNNTs can in addition work to donate durablity to plastics, ceramics, and metal while contributeing lighter mass overall.

Potential components and innovations for BNNTs include:

Energy harvesting – Because of their ‘piezoelectric properties,’ BNNTs can in fact start to generate a current when under mechanical stress. Automated sensors, motors and other energy generating devices may be turn it intod to work under extreme conditions.Transparent armor – BNNTs may prove useful to the military for items like shields for both vehicles and soldiers, as well as contributeing benefit due to their insulation and protection aacquirest radiation. The NRC is already working with the Department of Defense on these concepts.Fire-retardant products – This may seem to be a logical idea, especially for production of insulation, packaging, and clothing.Eliminating cancerous tumors – Amazingly, researchers have discovered that with the addition of tiny BNNT strands to tumors, cancer cells can be zapped. This takes place during irreversible electroporation, via electrical pulses that cause cancer cells to die. It is idea that BNNTs may promote this system additional in durablityening the electric fields.Hydrogen storage space – BNNTs may work to store sizeable volumes of hydrogen, and and so may be able-bodied to contribute power for vehicles.Desalination of water – Because BNNT material can reject just about all the salt in a solution, it was reported previously by researchers in Australia that this can be a viable-bodied and quite effective new way of desalinating.Power generation – Because ‘osmotic flow’ between BNNTs turn it intos amazingly sturdy currents, it’s idea that they may be helpful in working to turn it into clean electricity.

The list of showcases and benefits that may futurely be contributeed with BNNTs is amazingly astounding, so one may see why the National Research Council of Canada is working to store a hold on what may rapidly become a burgeoning new industry.

“We hope to store the lead,” said Simard, who says they are working to remain ahead of the competition. “Interest is growing.”

Do you ponder this new material has the future to surpass the carbon nanotube industry? Discuss in the BNNTs Have Potential in 3D Printing forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source: The Star]


Keun Su Kim holds samples of BNNTs being turn it intod by the NRC. [All Photos: NRC]