Arkema, a world leader in nanostructured materials, announces the construction of a carbon nanotube (CNT) pilot production plant at its Mont site (France, Pyrénées-Atlantiques).

The 400 ton/year plant, scheduled for startup beginning of 2011, will operate an innovative process and will be the only CNT production plant in the world to use an entirely bio-sourced raw material.

In 2003 Arkema launched a research project to study CNTs and their applications. In 2006 Arkema started up at its Lacq facility the first pilot laboratory capable of producing some 20 ton/year of CNTs, sampled under the trademark Graphistrength®. Arkema in particular developed a range of innovative masterbatches that are easy to process within various thermoplastic, elastomer and, more recently, thermoset matrices. These high-tech masterbatches help optimize the application properties of end-products.

As a responsible manufacturer, and in keeping with the precautionary principle, Arkema put in place from the very launch of the project a CNT-specific health-safety-environment initiative to ensure the protection of its employees, users, and the environment. Its code of conduct is based on three principles: prevention, permanent knowledge acquisition, and transparency with stakeholders in accordance with the advice of the January 2009 French Public Health Council.

Arkema has already established a large number of partnerships in various sectors ranging from electronics and transport, to renewable energies (wind, photovoltaics) and energy storage (batteries, supercapacitors) for the development of applications requiring enhanced performance in terms of electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, and mechanical strength.

For the past three years Arkema has been involved in major development programs designed to assist companies seeking innovation by using nanostructured materials. In particular, as part of the GENESIS program launched in June 2008, Arkema assists both major groups and SMEs in a number of industrial sectors - automobile, cable manufacture, composites, energy, environment - which are keen to capitalize on the outstanding features of carbon nanotubes for their own developments.

This industrial investment will boost Arkema’s standing among leading suppliers of new nanostructured materials.