Small stuff is going big

February 2016

SEM image of F90 silicon nitride nanofibres. Image: Nuenz.

Nuenz Limited, makers of silicon nitride nanofibres and sub-micron particles, are set to take their products to the world.

Silicon nitride is classed as a technical ceramic, and, after extensive research, Nuenz scientists have shown the fibres and particles they are producing have performance characteristics beyond most other materials, including high strength, low thermal expansion, low density and good thermal conductivity – making them the ideal additive or composite ingredient for a range of materials with applications from medical equipment to vehicle and aerospace technology.

“We are seeing big increases in hardness in titanium with only small additions of F80 product,” says Nuenz Scientist Dr Sherry Xu. This discovery has recently led to new research collaboration with Waikato University. 

Nuenz now makes silicon nitride materials in a nanofibre and sub-micron particle form and has been through several development phases in the past five years, funded primarily through private equity with support from Callaghan Innovation and NZTE.

Dr Murray McCurdy, Chief Engineer, in charge of process scaling for Nuenz, says the key to success for producers of nanomaterials is achieving scale, “Through our intensive R&D effort, supported by a CI grant, in 2013 we achieved a breakthrough in process design making production simpler and more scalable.” 

The breakthrough has broad application and sets Nuenz up to supply a range of nanomaterials across a wide variety of applications.

Nuenz now supplies four forms of silicon nitride; three fibre grades F90, F80 and F50; and a P80 particle grade and has started making sales.

Following the success of combining F80 with titanium, Nuenz is now receiving International attention. In June 2015, Dr McCurdy attended TechConnect as part of the New Zealand delegation and received a TechConnect Innovation Award. Chief Scientist, Dr Troy Dougherty was also invited to attend the Lux Executive Summit in Tokyo at the end of last year following a positive report on the company from Lux International. 

Looking ahead, Dr Dougherty says Nuenz will diversify the range of products coming out of the process plant, “We have built a lot of capability and learnt a great deal through the silicon nitride journey. We are now turning this to developing new classes of materials.”

Nuenz will be developing these new materials through co-innovation with local researchers and a growing network through USA, Europe and Asia.

Nuenz, formed in 2011, is a spin-out company of CRL Energy.

For more about Nuenz please go to Nuenz | Home