You have to hand it to Bayer Material Science in their latest announced opening of the world’s largest carbon nanotube plant. Without any real indication that any or even one of carbon nanotubes’ (CNTs) applications are spiking in demand, they just added 200 metric tons to the world’s annual capacity.
Keep in mind Bayer’s pilot plant won’t be number one for long as France-based Nanocyl will be bringing on line a new reactor capable of 400 metric tons annually in July of this year.
In just 2007, Bayer made it known in an article in Chemical & Engineering News that its production capacity for CNTs was 60 metric tons. That means Bayer will be increasing its capacity by 300% in a little over two years to meet what they define as a 25% increase in demand.
Along with Nanocyl’s production increase this year, it would seem there’s going to be a lot of carbon nanotubes flooding the market without much in the way of demand to use them. Maybe we will hear soon about the “killer app” for CNTs that is going to change that dynamic.
Dexter Johnson is a contributing editor at IEEE Spectrum, with a focus on nanotechnology.