High temperature nano-material developed

Written by: Justin Cunningham | Published:
Boron-nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) show no degradation up to 900°C

A study by NASA and Binghamton University has shown the thermal performance of a boron-nitride based nanomaterial remains stable at temperatures twice that of carbon based nanomaterials, while offering the well known advantage of being extremely strong and incredibly lightweight.

The material known as boron-nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) shows no significant degradation up to 900°C. It is produced by NASA and could well be used for the next generation of aircraft and spacecraft, and is seen as an enabler for next generation hypersonic aircraft structures.

"We weren't testing this material in a vacuum, like what you'd experience in space,” said Binghamton University associate professor of mechanical engineering, Changhong Ke. “We wanted to see if BNNTs could hold up in the type of environment an average fighter jet or commercial plane would experience.”

While the study has brought new light to the strength and stability of BNNTs, their use on planes may not be a reality for another five to 10 years.

"Right now, BNNTs cost about $1,000 per gram. It would be impractical to use a product that expensive," said Ke.

Carbon nanotubes were about the same price 20 years ago. As more studies indicated the usefulness of carbon nanotubes, the production rates increased and prices went down to the current rate, between $10 and $20 per gram. Ke sees the same fate coming down the line for BNNTs.

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