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News release, February 11, 2011

Innovation Alliance Carbon Nanotubes (Inno.CNT) presents the results of its work:

Revolutionary optimism at the 2011 Inno.CNT annual conference

Düsseldorf/Ettlingen, 11 February 2011. The third annual conference of the Innovation Alliance Carbon Nanotubes (Inno.CNT) was held in the German town of Ettlingen, near Karlsruhe, at the end of January. A particular focus of the event, which took place between January 25-27, was the presentation of innovative applications for carbon nanotubes with high market relevance by the partners in the Inno.CNT network. In addition to specialist presentations, the technology exhibits provided impressive proof of the progress of the Inno.CNT projects in the accompanying exhibition. The 380 participants also enjoyed and discussed the presentations of the guest speakers, who were renowned CNT researchers from Germany and abroad. Carbon nanotubes have extraordinary material properties which the Innovation Alliance hopes to harness for use in the fields of energy, the environment, mobility, lightweight construction and electronics and thus contribute to solving some of the challenges faced by today’s society.

“We need to focus on what the market demands,” says the project cluster manager of Inno.CNT, Dr. Péter Krüger of Bayer MaterialScience AG, continuing, “because CNT materials face stiff competition with other materials and technological solutions”. Since 2008, the 90 project partners of the research alliance Inno.CNT, sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, have been developing practical CNT applications in 27 networked projects. Researchers and users collaborate closely to develop competitive products.

CNT helmets – the same protection with less weight

Evidence of the specific benefits of the minuscule carbon nanotubes was produced not only in numerous specialist lectures but by the technological exhibits presented at the event. Among other things, these included a CNT-reinforced motorcycle helmet made by Schuberth GmbH, the market leader in motorcycle helmets, which weighs 60 grams less than comparable products without compromising the driver’s safety. Schuberth wants to use the process not only for the high-end motor sports market, but also for the production of police helmets, which weigh up to 2.5 kilograms. The lighter CNT helmets significantly enhance safety during longer police operations. However, it will be a while before these innovative helmets will achieve competitive viability in the market: “Only when we can manufacture CNT helmets as quickly as conventional ones will mass production be feasible. There’s a lot to do in that regard, but we think we can accomplish it in one and a half to two years,” said Dr. Erhan Serbest, head of development at Schuberth.

Greater height, stability and durability – Structures made of CNT high-performance concrete

In the construction industry, CNT-reinforced concrete will make it possible in the future to build considerably more sophisticated skyscrapers and bridges with less weight and greater elasticity, thus conserving resources and energy while facilitating the implementation of taller structures as well. Thanks to its minimal weight, CNT-reinforced high-performance concrete is superior to the conventional steel-reinforced concrete, which limits the height of the structures to be built due to its high intrinsic weight. To demonstrate the outstanding properties of CNT-reinforced concrete, Dyckerhoff AG, the second-largest concrete manufacturer in Germany, presented a table and chairs made of high-performance CNT-reinforced concrete only 3 centimeters thick. Another advantage of CNT-reinforced concrete is its greater durability. “CNT-reinforced concrete is extremely dense,” explained engineer Dr. Carsten Geisenhanslüke, head of product development at Dyckerhoff, during a press conference. “Harmful substances such as the chloride contained in salt used to de-ice roads and sidewalks can’t penetrate it, so that the structures are significantly more durable.”

The importance of the Inno.CNT annual conference was highlighted by the presence of numerous renowned researchers and the presentation of comparable research initiatives abroad. “The event is an important communication platform for international CNT researchers,” says Dr. Stefan Tröster of the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT), which hosted this year’s conference in cooperation with CONTACT, the European network for next-generation researchers.

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About Inno.CNT (Innovation Alliance Carbon Nanotubes)

This initiative is a research network consisting of more than 90 specialized small and mid-sized enterprises, large industrial conglomerates, scientific institutes and numerous universities. Its goal is to develop fundamental technologies and applications for carbon nanotubes (CNT). In 27 tightly linked projects, the members of the initiative focus on practical applications of CNT in the fields of energy, the environment, mobility, lightweight construction and electronics. The alliance is part of the high-tech strategy of the German Federal Government and has been sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of its WING program (Materials Innovations for Industry and Society) since 2008.