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.