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A Brief on Nanomaterial Mixing Technology

A growing number of consumer products from computer chips and cosmetics to fabrics and surfboards are incorporating small amounts of nanomaterials to enhance existing properties or provide new functionalities.

Nanomaterials are structures the size of 100 nanometers or smaller in at least one dimension. To put that scale into context, consider that human hair is approximately 80,000 nanometers in diameter. It is due to their size that nanomaterials possess their novel quantum mechanical properties.

For instance, an increase in the ratio of surface area to volume translates to an exponential increase in the portion of constituent atoms at or near the surface, creating more sites for bonding or reaction with surrounding materials. This results in improved properties such as increased strength and greater chemical or heat resistance. In the production of coatings, nanopigments increase transparency, gloss, smoothness, as well as resistance to scratching, corrosion and ultraviolet radiation. Carbon nanotubes added to aircraft components, electronics and sports equipment give rise to enhanced electrical and thermal conductivity, as well as excellent mechanical load bearing capacity. Compared to the traditionally used filler, carbon black, which are relatively spherical particles, carbon nanotubes have a higher aspect ratio (ratio of its longer dimension to its shorter dimension) and can provide the same conductivity in much lower loadings. High carbon black loadings in a polymer tend to make it brittle and this issue is averted with the use of carbon nanotubes.

It is obvious to see that the technical breakthroughs of nanomaterials apply to different markets and can impact many more as research and development efforts continue. It is worth noting that nanomaterials also hold the potential to unlock advances in various green technologies. Already, nanomaterials are driving improvements in the design of solar cells, wind turbines, fuel cells and water filtration systems. One example is the nanocomposite coating sprayed on to the windmill blades to improve their durability. Dispersion of nanoparticles into a low-viscosity vehicle typically involves a pre-mix stage to combine the raw materials. This is done with the use of low speed propellers, turbines or simple agitators.