Industries Economic Development

Factory in Newport News to produce heat-resistant, textile-like polymer

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BNNT LLC, a Newport News startup, has begun building a factory to make a heat-resistant, textile-like polymer.

The factory, under construction near the U.S. Department of Energy’s Jefferson Lab, will produce Fibril Boron Nanotubes (Fibril BNNT), a polymer described as having the appearance of cotton but containing a molecular backbone 100 times stronger than steel.

The company expects the product to be used in a wide range of applications, from Mars rocket heat shields to cancer therapies.

“The current world supply of Fibril BNNT is under 10 grams, less than the weight of four pennies, but the demand for this material is tremendous,” Mike Smith, the company’s chief scientist, said in a statement. We believe we can sell as much as we make.”

BNNT expects sales to commercial and university laboratories to begin within a year.

Company officials said the location of the factory is appropriate because the foundational technology of Fibril BNNT was developed using the Jefferson Lab’s Free Electron Laser in collaboration with the NASA Langley Research Center and the National Institute of Aerospace and with support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

BNNT said it recently closed on a financing transaction giving the company the initial investment it needs to begin production.

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