Leading a new wave of affordable nanofibre technology

T. Dougherty, M. McCurdy, J. Kennedy, K.K.G. De Silva
University of Auckland - Product Accelerator, NZ

Keywords: silicon nitride, nano-fibers, carbothermal nitridation synthesis, large scale production

Summary:

Nuenz Limited is a New Zealand company commercialising a process for large scale manufacturing of silicon nitride nanofibres. The process is based on the carbothermal nitridation synthesis route, which is well known in the literature. The key breakthrough is the ability to scale the process in the unique reactor design and achieve high yields of quality fibre with a short cycle time. The development of purification techniques allow to refine to greater than 90% fibres and close to 100% silicon nitride. Currently, Nuenz is perfecting a highly efficient proprietary manufacturing process, producing high volumes of high quality nanofibres at a low cost. Because Nuenz Nanofibres are created from raw materials that are affordable and abundant, they overcome the two stumbling blocks of cost and availability that have prevented nanofibre technology being widely adopted by industry. A reliable and affordable source of high performance silicon nitride nanofibres as a reinforcing material will have a major positive impact on the commercial development of a new generation of high performance ceramic, metal and polymer composite components. The future application areas and goals would be in cutting tools, aerospace, armour with end-users etc.