Tiny particles pack big punch

Nano-revolution in cables

Improving the macroscale performance of composites

Nanoparticles, nano-oxides, nanotubes, nanoclay enable higher performance for traditional materials, providing exceptional mechanical resistance, fine-tuned electrical conductivity, and the ability to defy fire.
Nanocomposites are defined as materials consisting of a small proportion (about 5% by weight of filler, with at least one dimension lower than 100nm). This small amount of nanoscale reinforcement can have an important effect on the properties of the composite in terms of electrical and thermal conductivity, optical and dielectric properties, heat resistance or mechanical properties such as stiffness and strength and resistance to wear and damage.

By decreasing the particle size, the surface/volume ratio increases. For certain applications, this allows us to reduce the quantity of raw materials while obtaining the same results.

The first example of application in cables was the use of nanoclays in fire safety cable sheaths providing enhanced fire-resistance. In the case of fire, nanoclay-based materials significantly reduce heat due to a gas-barrier effect. In addition, they allow the formation a very cohesive ceramic shell, similar in texture to fired pottery. Such nanocomposites are used to enhance the fire properties of ALSECURE® and PREMIUM® product ranges.

The second example is using carbon nanotubes (CNT) for semi-conducting compounds. To optimize the dispersion of CNT and avoid the presence of agglomerates, new CNT masterbatch processing was developed by Nexans. Within the framework of the GENESIS program and in collaboration with the LMOPS laboratory, we also developed methodology to quantify the level of CNT dispersion.

Electron microscope image of morphological structure
of well-dispersed polyethylene-clay composites
Micrograph showing nano silicon dioxide dispersion
in cross-linked polyethylene