METACLAY, a business based in Karachev, Bryansk Oblast, has launched the first production in Russia of nanosilicates and polymer nanocomposites incorporating those nanosilicates. The products are used as additives and fillers in the oil-and-gas, cable, packaging, and automobile industries. Total investment in the project is 1.9 billion rubles. Of that sum, RUSNANO will cofinance 1.1 billion rubles.
Governor of Bryansk Oblast Nikolai Denin, RUSNANO CEO Anatoly Chubais, and METACLAY General Director Sergey Shtepa took part in ceremonies for the factory’s commissioning.
Initially, the new factory will produce 14,860 tons of polymer nanocomposites annually. Such volume would be sufficient, for example, to protect 390 kilometers—the distance from Moscow to Karachev—of large-diameter gas pipeline for 80 years. In 2014, when the manufacturing facility reaches design capacity, nanosilicate production will rise to 25,000 tons and polymer nanocomposites, to 50,000 tons. Sales are expected to exceed five billion rubles per year of which 80 percent will be in polymer nanocomposites, materials made of a flexible base (matrix) and a nanofiller, an organo-modified silicate (montmorillonite) with particles ranging from 10 nanometers to 200 nanometers. Compared with ordinary composites, these materials have greater mechanical stability, afford greater protection from fire, and permit less gas and steam to permeate—all significant improvements.
The technology used by METACLAY to obtain polymer nanocomposites stems from advances by Russian scientists working at the country’s leading scientific institutions: the A. V. Topchiev Institute of Petrochemical Synthesis, Russian Academy of Sciences; the Institute of Macromolecular Compounds, Russian Academy of Sciences; the Karpov Institute of Physical Chemistry; Moscow State University; and the Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology of Russia.
At present METACLAY is completing product certifications. In July 2011 VNIIGAZ, a Gazprom-owned research institute, gave the company a positive finding on its anticorrosion material for large-diameter gas pipelines. METACLAY is developing organo-modified polymers for manufacturing cushion shock absorbers for railway fasteners and making manufacturing refinements for high-tech nanosiilitate packaging material that will significantly extend the shelf life of foodstuffs. In still another important sphere of product use, METACLAY is finishing two years of advances to meet the needs of the cable industry. The company chose cables for several reasons: requirements for fire safety in electrical products are becoming more stringent; flame retardants are more in demand; and the market demand increases in the higher-quality segment.
“The modern laboratory we opened before launching production has been extremely important. Four of its departments—innovative technologies, analytical studies, production scaling, and physical and mechanical testing—enable us to recreate the entire life cycle of a product, from initial idea through examining the qualities of prepared materials and then through pilot batch manufacturing,” Sergey Shtepa, METACLAY general director, explained.
“The technology used by METACLAY was developed entirely by Russian scientists. The quality and attributes of its products are without analog in the market today. Montmorillonite is a natural raw material that is capable, with the right scientific approach and transformation into a functioning technology, of making changes in traditional products in a host of sectors, giving those products valuable innovative qualities,” said Alexander Kondrashov, RUSNANO managing director.
METACLAY produces modified nanosilicates that it uses as base material for manufacturing polymer nanocomposites.
Innovative features of METACLAY’s nanocomposites due to the nanosized particles in the silicate fillers.
The silicate (aluminum silicate) particles introduced into the polymer materials change their ability to crystallize, adding another diffusion barrier.
Polymer composite based on nanoclay
Polymer base (matrix) and filler—a modified-organic nanoclay (montmorillonite). The structure of the onolayer of polymer nanocomposite and variations of organized microcomposites are illusstrated below.
Nanostructures, formed in polymer composites, imbue final products with new qualities:
Greater impact resistance
Lower gas permeability
Lower combustibility, as low as zero
Longer exploitation terms
Smaller number of materials used
Improved imperviousness of materials to fractures or cracks
Lower fluidity of materials
More even coating applications
Better resistance to ultraviolet rays.
Silicate particles in the polymer matrix
METACLAY is manufacturing polymer nanocomposites using modern European oscillating extrusion units that raise the performance of the finished material by mixing components into a homogeneous state.
Metalen PE-1 is a black, high-density bimodal polyethylene. The material is extremely durable in a wide range of temperatures and highly resistant to cracking. The product is used in the exterior layer of coating to steel pipes intended as gas pipelines. Metalen PE-1 is a product of METACLAY’s own development.
Metalen APE-1 is a polyethylene-based adhesive for coating steel pipes to be used as gas pipelines. The product was specially developed to bond the epoxy anticorrosion layer and the exterior polyethylene layer in three-layer pipe coatings. Metalen APE-1 is also a proprietary development of METACLAY.
Silanol-linked compositions are compounds of polyethylene and catalyst concentrates. They are used as insulation in self-supporting insulated wires; as base material for low-voltage networks, hot water pipeline systems, and tubes for under-floor (radiant) heating.
Thermoelastoplasts (TEPs) are thermoplastic polymer materials combining the fabricability of thermoplasts with the elasticity of resin. In railways they are used to manufacture cushion shock absorbers for rail fasteners;, in the cable industry for internal wire insulation, in the automobile construction industry; in home construction, to manufacture weather stripping for plastic window frame; and to produce couples for electronics and household appliances.
Halogen-free flame-retardant polymer composition. This product is used in insulation of cables with stricter fire safety requirements. METACLAY is the first to bring this material to the Russian market. In contrast to existing materials for insulating nonflammable cable, HFFR does not emit poisonous gases during a fire.