CLEVELAND—OCSiAl has enjoyed success since its establishment about five years ago, and now it is expanding to accommodate future growth.
The firm will add a new production site for its graphene nanotubes in Luxembourg, designed to house five 50-ton reactors. Production capacity is a minimum of 250 tons with the ability to increase further. CEO Hugues Jacquemin said at the recent International Elastomer Conference in Cleveland that the first train of the facility will be launched by 2023.
The firm still is determining how many jobs it will add in conjunction with the expansion. It currently employs 450 globally and operates two other synthesis facilities in Siberia with capacities for 50 and 25 tons, respectively. Jacquemin said by 2023 the firm's global capacity should reach 125 tons.
Investment figures were not disclosed, but Jacquemin said the company went through a round of financing in 2019 that brought the company a valuation in excess of $1 billion.
OCSiAl also added a new applications center in Shanghai in 2019, a site that Jacquemin said spans 13,500 square feet with 150 pieces of equipment. It also will open a small U.S. lab in 2020 to support customers in the region.
"It will basically allow all of our customers to come in and try new applications with our tubes," Jacquemin said. "It will be fully staffed."
OCSiAl also unveiled four new Tuball matrix products at the Rubber Expo designed specifically for the elastomers industry.
The four grades are naturally conductive, single-wall carbon nanotube additives that help improve the physical properties of elastomers in addition to enhancing conductivity without compromising other attributes. The firm said the products bring loading rates of less than 0.5 percent, which enables lightweighting; provide greater color control; and eliminate marking.
Each matrix also helps improve the dispersions of the graphene nanotubes into an EPDM or specific type of plastic/elastomer application.
"We're quite excited with these products," Jacquemin said. "Our customers have really enjoyed the products so far, but there have been difficulties in using them. By coming out with these new products, we believe we're going to make it easier for our customers to use our products, improve the performance and reduce the loading that is necessary in order to achieve the properties that they want, and therefore reduce the overall cost of the solutions."
The company has about 40 different types of matrixes within its product portfolio. The three new grades have completed production testing and are qualified for customer use. Tuball Matrix 608 is designed for fluoroelastomers used in gaskets, seals and other components serving the oil and gas, semiconductor and aerospace industries. The firm said that adding 608 during compounding improves tensile strength up to 36 percent, tear strength up to 90 percent and abrasion resistance up to 27 percent.
OCSiAl said Tuball Matrix 610 is designed for EPDMs and improves tensile strength up to 25 percent and tear strength up to 103 percent. The product helps give belts used in vehicles and conveyor systems a longer life and improves elongation of roofing materials by up to 61 percent.
Finally, Tuball Matrix 614 and 615 are for tire compounds and enable a 20 percent boost in durability, a 9.6 percent improvement in efficiency and improvement in traction as well, according to OCSiAl.
"We're really a pioneer," Jacquemin said. "We're really almost the only manufacturer of these tubes in industrial quantities today. We have to go and educate the market and facilitate the use of these tubes to create new applications. Really that's what we're focused on."