Easton Sports' Bicycle Division is using Zyvex's additive, NanoSolve, in a range of new composite bicycle components.
Carbon nanotubes are coils of pure carbon that can conduct electricity better than many metals, are light and stronger. Aircraft and auto manufacturers already use nanotube strands in structures that need to be light, but super-strong.
Most carbon composite bike parts use graphite, a more dense form of carbon.
Zyvex and Easton say they have developed a way to fold the nanotubes into composite materials without 'clumping'.
While scientists have known about carbon nanotubes since 1991, their superior mechanical properties were inhibited by phase separation and clumping, said Zyvex president Thomas A. Cellucci, PhD, MBA. Carbon Nanotubes are molecules of pure carbon atoms joined together molecularly to form a carbon tube that is one billionth of a meter in diameter. A carbon nanotube is over 20 times stronger than steel, yet with only 1/6th its density, said Cellucci.
Like throwing a wadded up steel cable into concrete, "it doesn't do much good, no matter how strong the cable is," said Larry Carlson, VP of R&D at Easton.
"Zyvex's technology helped us use the full properties of nanotubes, by unbundling them and integrating them into the composite material."
This adds strength, said John Harrington, VP of Easton Sports' Bicycle Division:
"We saw a large increase in the strength and toughness of the composite when the nanotubes were properly functionalized. With that achievement, we were able to create lighter and stronger bicycle components."