SBIR Phase II: Automotive Nanocomposites

Period of Performance: 01/01/2008 - 12/31/2008

$500K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Claytec, Inc.
5901 East Sleepy Hollow Ln
East Lansing, MI 48823
Principal Investigator

Abstract

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II proposal aims to commercialize a new mesoporous silicate nanoparticles for the reinforcement of thermoplastic polymers used in the manufacture of U.S. cars and light trucks. Whereas nanoparticles, in general, provide some polymer reinforcement benefits, they typically lack the ability to provide strength as well as stiffness. Also, they normally require extensive organic surface modification for dispersion in the polymer matrix. Organic modifiers limit nanoparticles thermal stability and compromise their suitability for nanocomposite manufacturing through cost-effective melt processing methods. The purely inorganic mesoporous silicates this project plans, circumvent all of the limitations caused by organic modifies by providing a unique combination of surface polarity, mesopore size, surface area, and pore volume which optimizes interfacial interactions between the particles and the polymer matrix for effective dispersion and reinforcement. In addition to providing stiffness at particle loadings, the mesoporous silicates provide strength, which allows the amount of polymer needed to produce an automotive part to be reduced in proportion to the added strength. The polymer savings alone allow users of the technology to reduce the weight of the vehicle, achieve stiffness, and improve fuel economy at no added cost. The broader impact/commercial potential of automotive nanocomposites can directly impact the US energy economy, as well as environmental quality. The combination of