Nanotech solves real engineering problems say conference presenters

A conference at Cranfield University next month will aim to raise awareness and promote the development of new materials based on nanotechnology.

Presenters from the automotive and aerospace sectors will be among those explaining how they are already benefiting from nanomaterials, according to the organisers of the HiPerNano 2010 conference, which is set for Wednesday 28 April.

The conference is backed by NanoKTN - the Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network, which in turn is part of the government-backed Technology Strategy Board. NanoKTN said that the HiPerNano conference, exhibition and poster presentations would showcase new scientific and commercial developments, alongside ‘far-sighting’ by industry professionals on challenges yet to be addressed.

“Nanomaterials are beginning to have a major commercial impact world-wide, and the NanoKTN is building a UK community where aerospace, defence, security, power generation and automotive industries can access the commercial and performance benefits of nanomaterials for components which are subjected to extreme environments such as high temperature, friction and corrosion,” said Dr Martin Kemp, theme manager at NanoKTN.

He added that the higher visibility consumer products using nanotech, such as polishes, glass treatments and colour changing paints, are only the tip of the iceberg. Nanofilled polymers and resins, and nanostructured ceramics and coatings can offer higher performance, wear and erosion resistance, lighter weight, reduced friction, toughening, UV resistance, corrosion control and aesthetic enhancement, he said. A key area is the hidden but important drive to find high performance, but environmentally friendly, alternatives to toxic materials.

Among the presenters lined up for the conference are Ian Minards, director of product development at Aston Martin, addressing topics such as mass reduction, aerodynamic efficiency and friction reduction, and Dr Al Lambourne of Rolls-Royce who will review the enabling role of nanotechnology in aerospace. His presentation will include electronic materials, bulk structural materials and coatings, all aimed at enhancing future engine performance.

Dr Graham Sims, head of materials & engineering at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), will report on an exercise supported by the HiPerNano focus group to review the needs and feasibility of developing an engineering data handbook for nanocomposite properties. Using the electrical properties of carbon nanotube filled polymers as a case study, Dr Sims will discuss the influences of processing, CNT type and length, and issues related to improving the availability and validity of published data.

Additional speakers from a range of organisations - including Johnson Matthey, Polyfect Solutions, Exilica, Promethean Particles, Keronite Group, Indestructible Paints, BHR Group and NetComposites UK - will cover a wide range of material and processing issues, noted NanoKTN’s Kemp.

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