A subsidiary of UK research company Qinetiq has commissioned a nano production facility at Farnborough and is eyeing potential aerospace-suitable applications of nanotechnology.

Qinetiq Nanomaterials intends to manufacture customised nanopowders and materials to allow potential applications to be investigated and tested.

Qinetiq says that some nanotechnology applications could be realised within five years. These include anti-corrosion coatings which improve surface mechanical properties and chemical stability in air; lubricants with tailored viscosity and thermal expansion properties; and composite materials that are lighter, stronger, thinner or incorporate other requirements.

The two production rigs can each produce several kilogrammes of material an hour.

Plasma vapourisation is used to create nanometer-sized powder particles. Feed-stock material is vapourised in a 4,000-9,000°C (7,200-18,000°F) plasma heat source and rapidly quenched to produce particles of various sizes. Pure metals, passivated metals with a thin oxide layer, oxides, nitrides and other alloys and compounds can be produced.

Source: Flight International