Bayer builds world's largest production plant for carbon nanotubes in Germany

31 January 2009

Bayer MaterialScience has begun work on the construction of a new facility for the production of carbon nanotubes(CNTs) in Chempark Leverkusen, Germany. The new plant will have a capacity of 200 tons/year, making it the largest of its kind in the world.

The company is to invest around 22 million in the planning, development and construction of the plant, which will create 20 new jobs. "We are investing in a key technology of the future that will open up a broad range of new applications for us. We intend to utilize this opportunity to the full. At the same time, the construction of the new CNT facility is a declaration of faith in Leverkusen and the State of North Rhine-Westphalia as an industrial location," said Dr. Wolfgang Plischke, the member of the Bayer AG Board of Management responsible for innovation, technology and the environment, at a press conference to mark the start of construction.

Current forecasts predict that the global market for carbon nanotubes will grow by 25% a year. In ten years, annual sales of these products are expected to reach US$2 billion.

Bayer MaterialScience is one of the few companies that can produce carbon nanotubes of consistently high quality on an industrial scale. A pilot plant with an annual capacity of 60 tons has been in operation in
Laufenburg in southern Germany since 2007.

Production involves a catalytic process in which the carbon nanotubes are obtained from a carbon-containing gas at elevated temperature in a reactor. "Bayer is investing in this, the world's largest CNT production plant, because we are convinced of the technological and economic efficiency of the process," said Plischke.

With the company's know-how, Bayer can now take a product from the research laboratory and smooth its progress into a broad spectrum of applications relevant to society, such as energy, the environment, mobility, safety and construction.

Baytubes — the brand name for Bayer's carbon nanotubes — are already being used to produce tough, extremely strong, lightweight materials. This means, for example, that rotor blades for wind turbines are more energy-efficient, that transport containers weigh less and that sports equipment can be made more robust.

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