Nano Graphene Plate-Reinforced Polymer Composites

Period of Performance: 01/01/2006 - 12/31/2006


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Nanotek Instruments, Inc.
1240 McCook Ave. Array
Dayton, OH 45404
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


This project will develop a new class of nanocomposites containing isolated, individual, nano-scaled graphene plates (NGPs). Like carbon nano-tubes, NGP materials exhibit attractive properties like carbon nano-tubes, but can be readily mass-produced and are expected to become available at much lower costs and in larger quantities. When incorporated as a nano filler in a matrix, isolated NGPs are expected to impart exceptional mechanical (strength and stiffness), electrical (conductivity and dielectric), thermal (conductivity), and gas barrier properties to the matrix polymer. Phase I experimentally demonstrated the superior mechanical and electrical properties of the NGP nanocomposite. The feasibility of incorporating a high percentage of NGPs in a polymer matrix, to produce highly conductive bipolar plates on a continuous basis, has been demonstrated. Processes for preparing continuous filaments containing highly oriented NGPs, and for converting these filaments into a high-strength nanocomposite, also were developed. Phase II will develop the mass production capability of NGP nanocomposites for fuel cell bipolar plates, supercapacitor electrodes, and thin films or coatings for electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding and electrostatic charge dissipation (ESD) applications. The resultant material will be characterized with respect to strength, stiffness, gas permeation resistance (barrier properties), electrical conductivity, and dielectric properties (permittivity and loss factor). Modeling and computational work will be undertaken to theorize the experimental data. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: NGP-based nanocomposites, with unique and tailorable electric conductivity and dielectric constants, could find use as functional coatings (EMI shields, electrostatic paintable plastics, ESD films or coatings, and corrosion-resistant coatings), lithium-ion battery negative electrodes, fuel cell bi-polar plates, supercapacitor electrodes, and dielectric elements in telecommunication devices. Future applications could include automotive friction plates, solid lubricants, and micron- or nano-scaled bearings, springs, sensors, and switch contacts. The market for conductive polymers alone (primarily filler-resin composites, but not including fuel cell bipolar plates) has been estimated at 128.5 million pounds at a value of $205.3 million in 2003. Projected growth forecasts show the market reaching 745 million pounds, valued at nearly $1.6 billion, in 2008.