Chemicals company Sabic (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) announced today that it has taken a majority stake in Black Diamond Structures (BDS; Austin, TX), a nanotechnology company established in 2014. BDS produces and commercializes Molecular Rebar, a proprietary technology of modified carbon nanotubes that has the potential to enhance the performance of energy storage applications using lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries.
BDS will be part of Sabic’s Specialties business. According to Alan Leung, Vice President of Specialties, the carbon nanotube technology of BDS will allow the company to address several demanding challenges in the energy storage market. In particular, BDS provides game-changing benefits to battery manufacturers looking for breakthrough improvements in charge rates, battery cycle life and energy density.
Conventional carbon nanotubes are known for their tendency to get entangled, cake and hold high residual impurities, limiting their capabilities of enhancing electrical and mechanical material properties in real world applications. In contrast, Molecular Rebar delivers clean, discrete carbon nanotubes of uniform aspect ratio, enabling their use to create high-performance energy storage applications, said Sabic.
BDS CEO John Hacskaylo said that the proprietary nanomaterial can be directly incorporated in existing production processes of batteries without requiring additional investments, allowing a fast track for manufacturers to improve their next generation of batteries. Tests reportedly show that Molecular Rebar carbon nanotubes significantly improve the cycle life of lead-acid batteries and enhance the performance of lithium-ion batteries to meet the increased power capacity demands of the industry.
Hacskaylo also expects the technology to play an effective role in the downgauging and downsizing of new battery designs. This not only meets global demand for lighter batteries in the hybrid and electric vehicles market, but also reduces battery production costs.
Leung envisions that adding Molecular Rebar technology to Sabic’s portfolio also can open new opportunities beyond the energy storage market and unleash innovations in material science for enhancing the properties of specialty resins and functional compounds.