Lab Canada

Joint nanotechnologies initiative to develop plastic supermaterial

Longueuil, QC May 14, 2003 The National Research Council Industrial Materials Institute (NRC-IMI) has announced the launch of a new research and development initiative in partnership with 13 major companies. Known as PNC-Tech, the initiative invests C$300,000 a year in R&D, focused on the development of polymer nanocomposites, which are plastic-based materials with remarkable properties.

“Nanotechnologies will play an important role in tomorrow’s manufacturing industries,” says Allan Rock, minister of industry and minister responsible for the National Research Council. “NRC’s joint initiative demonstrates Canada’s resolve to invest in promising new technologies and to keep our country on the frontline of developments in this field.”

The polymer nanocomposites are plastic materials with small amounts of clay added to them. They are call nano-composite materials because the clay must be mixed into the plastic at the nanometric scale. Specifically, a few molecules of clay are sandwiched between miniscule layers of polymers, resulting in a supermaterial, which adopts many enhanced properties including greater strength, higher resistance to permeability and higher heat stability. This new class of material potentially can improve the production and performance of food packaging, automobile parts and medical devices.

PNC-Tech is the first multi-partner R&D initiative for nanocomposites in Canada. It brings together partners from many different sectors of industry who share a common interest in high performance materials.

“NRC continues to be a pioneer in finding innovative methods to bring cutting-edge technologies directly to industry,” says Dr Arthur Carty, NRC president. “PNC-Tech brings together scientists who will move the technology forward and industrial partners that will define specific needs and applications for these materials.”

The partner companies currently in PNC-Tech are: General Motors of Canada, Dow Chemical Company, CLS3, Atlantic Composites, IPL, Crompton, Decoma International, Institut de recherche d’Hydro-Qubec (IREQ), Mark IV Automotive, Akzo Nobel, ShawCor, Sealed Air (Canada) and SNC TEC. Many other partners, including leading universities, are expected to join PNC-Tech in the coming weeks and months, increasing the scope of this initiative.

The first meeting of PNC-Tech members was also held yesterday in Longueuil to define the specific research activities of the project and to kick-off the R&D activities.