ARCHIVED - Unique NRC-Industry Research Partnership Launched

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July 03, 2003— Ottawa, Ontario

A total of 13 world-class companies recently joined the NRC Industrial Materials Institute (NRC-IMI) in a joint R&D partnership focused on the exciting and rapidly-expanding field of polymer nanocomposites, plastic-based materials with remarkable properties. The effort is the first multi-partner R&D initiative for nanocomposites in Canada, and one of the first in the world. Known as PNC-Tech, the initiative invests $300,000/year in R&D focused on the development of these new materials.

Representatives from PNC-Tech member companies at the launch of the new technology group at NRC-IMI.

Polymer nanocomposites are plastic materials with small amounts of clay added to them. They are called nano-composite materials because the clay must be mixed into the plastic at the nanometric scale (nanometer = 10-9 meter or one-billionth of a meter). Specifically, a few molecules of clay are sandwiched between miniscule layers of plastics (polymers), resulting in a 'supermaterial' with numerous enhanced properties: greater strength, higher resistance to permeability and higher heat stability. This new class of material potentially can improve the production and performance of food packaging, automobile parts and medical devices.

Graphic presenting polymer nanocomposites: conventional composite, intercalated nanocomposite and exfoliated nanocomposite.

"Nanotechnologies will play an important role in tomorrow's manufacturing industries," said Allan Rock, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the NRC. "NRC's joint initiative demonstrates Canada's resolve to invest in promising new technologies and to keep our country on the frontline of developments in this field."

The new group joins several other similar industry partnership initiatives in place at NRC. These partnerships, or Special Interest Groups as they are known, help engage industry in early-stage R&D vital to future innovation and company growth.

"NRC continues to be a pioneer in finding innovative methods to bring cutting-edge technologies directly to industry," said Dr. Arthur Carty, NRC President. "PNC-Tech brings together scientists who will move the technology forward and industrial partners that will define specific needs and applications for these materials."

The partner companies currently in PNC-Tech are: General Motors of Canada, Dow Chemical Company, CLS3 Inc., Atlantic Composites Ltd., IPL, Crompton Corp., Decoma International Inc., Institut de recherche d'Hydro-Québec (IREQ), Mark IV Automotive, Akzo Nobel, ShawCor Ltd, Sealed Air (Canada) and SNC TEC. Many other partners, including leading universities, are expected to join PNC-Tech in the coming weeks and months, increasing the scope of this initiative.

NRC-IMI is just one of several NRC institutes engaged in nanotechnology research. To find out more about this exciting field, you can visit specific NRC Web sites.

Enquiries: Media relations
National Research Council of Canada

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