Polymer Nanocomposites: Nanoparticles, Nanoclays and Nanotubes
The total worldwide market for polymer nanocomposites reached $90.8 million in 2003. Rising at an AAGR (average annual growth rate) of 18.4%, this market will exceed $210 million in 2008. .
The dollar value of thermoplastics is larger, because these are higher valued added goods and are used in high-dollar niche applications.
Growth will exceed an AAGR of 20% with sales reaching nearly $180 million.
Thermosets will rise at an AAGR of 9.9% from $20 million in 2003 to $32.2 million in 2008.
Current volumes of thermoplastic and thermoset nanocomposites produced are roughly equal. By 2008, thermoplastics will constitute 77% of the volume market.
Mineral fillers, metals and fibers have been added to thermoplastics and thermosets for decades to form composites. Compared to neat resins, these composites have a number of improved properties including tensile strength, heat distortion temperature and modulus. Thus, for structural applications, composites have become very popular and are sold in billion-pound quantities. These filled thermoplastics are sold in even larger volumes than neat thermoplastics. Furthermore, the volume of fillers sold is roughly equal to the volume of thermoplastic resin sold.
More recently, advances in synthetic techniques and the ability to readily characterize materials on an atomic scale have lead to interest in nanometer-size materials. These nanometer-size grains, fibers and plates dramatically have increased surface area compared to their conventional size counterparts.
Polymer nanocomposites combine these two concepts. Thermoplastics filled with nanometer-size materials have different properties than do thermoplastics filled with conventional materials. Some of these properties, such as increased tensile strength, clarity and barrier improvement, cannot be duplicated by filled resins at any loading.
This BCC report summarizes the nanocomposite products that have been developed, and covers some of the future developments of these materials. It details some of the applications for these nanocomposites, and estimates their possible future markets. The study has been written to be readily accessible for those readers with backgrounds, but accuracy concerning the technical aspects has not been sacrificed.
SCOPE OF STUDY
The report provides coverage of:
- Polymer nanocomposite technology in broad detail, including physical properties and manufacturing methods
- The industry in extensive detail, including clay, nanotube and metal oxide filler manufacturers, thermoplastic resin producers and compounders, along with company profiles
- Nanocomposite products by filler type, as well as relevant resins for each nanocomposite
- Market applications, with forecasts through 2008.
METHODOLOGY AND INFORMATION SOURCES
This report is the end result of 4 months of concerted effort by the author. Primary information sources were interviews with several dozen people in industry, academe and the government. The author also attended meetings and conferences, and much precious insight was gained from these sources as well. Many of the people interviewed are recognized authorities in the field, and provided invaluable assistance. I would like to thank all who took the time to speak with me for their help with this project.
Since this study was not commissioned by any corporation or individual, the author's brief in writing it was to be as objective as possible.
Secondary sources used for this report include a number of publications issued by the federal government, as well as items from the Internet, corporate literature and peer-reviewed literature.
Any time an estimate of a number is made, the underlying assumptions are discussed. Thus, if a reader chooses to interpret raw data in a different way, it is possible to do so. Dollar amounts are in constant 2003 dollars, and average annual growth rates (AAGRs) are calculated using standard tables.
While available today in only pilot amounts, the production of nanocomposite materials will exceed 55 million pounds in 2004.
The value of market in 2004 will approach $200 million.
Greater understanding of the chemistry driving the formation of nanocomposites has enabled researchers to discover practical methods of production for these materials.
Replacement of thermoplastic by nanocomposites will not come on a wholesale basis, but will take place in applications where the improved performance of the nanocomposite justifies an increase in cost.