The Most Significant Materials Science News of 2018
Dec 19, 2018 Dr Richard Collins
Advancements in materials science and material processing will always play a central role in any technological progression. IDTechEx has been providing leading market analysis on a broad range of advanced materials and their technology analysts have given their pick of the key news stories from 2018.
Notable Acquisition of 2018: Toray acquiring TenCate (€930m, March)
IDTechEx Analyst Comments: "There have been many mergers and acquisitions that have taken place surrounding advanced materials this year, but this acquisition by Toray the biggest for market control and a statement about the direction of the composite industry. The rise of fiber reinforced thermoplastics are taking the industry in new direction as well as taking roles away from their thermoset counterparts. Toray are the dominant force in carbon fiber composites and the acquisition of TenCate shows they want to maintain their commanding position during the rise of CFRTP."
Significant Joint Venture: Elysis (Rio Tinto, Alcoa, and others. Total $188m CAD investment, May)
IDTechEx Analyst Comments: "Aluminium is seeing a year-on-year demand increase from the transportation sector as the OEMs strive for lightweighting opportunities, we forecast the 2018-2023 aluminium for automotive CAGR at 6.6%. It may seem unlikely that we would see any big technology change in the processing of a high-volume commodity project, but this collaboration in new smelting technology between two huge players (bought together by Apple and with investment from government of Canada and Québec) is of major interest. The process is not only economically advantageous, but also with less greenhouse gas emissions. Full commercial launch expected in 2023/2024." For further in-depth analysis of lightweighting see the various IDTechEx Research reports on the topic at www.IDTechEx.com/research/am.
Expansion Announcement: NanoXplore (10,000 tpa, July)
IDTechEx Analyst Comments: "We have forecast an inflection point for the graphene industry in 2020/2021 as products come out of testing and start getting used. This is already evidenced with known applications in consumer electronics, under-the-hood roles in automotive, wind turbine coatings, energy storage and more. There have been many capacity expansions in graphene of late, most notably from China, to break the chicken-and-egg scenario but now NanoXplore have made a large statement with a 10,000 tpa capacity plant due online by 2021. They state that one of their key markets is corrugated plastic pipes." Visit www.IDTechEx.com/graphene for further information on the graphene industry, or attend the conference and exhibition 'Graphene & 2D Materials Europe 2019' on 10-11 April in Berlin.
Environmental Impact: Total Corbion starts-up 75,000 tpa PLA plant (December)
IDTechEx Analyst Comments: "Environmental considerations are not only essential for our planet but also provide a market shake-up. This is evident in the automotive sector with electric vehicles and energy storage dominating many news outlets and providing many material science innovations. The other key 2018 talking point is polymer waste, the winner could have been surrounding recycling processes, but the big news comes from a new biodegradable polymer plant which becomes the first major player to compete against the dominance of NatureWorks. This competition and the reported superior material properties can only assist the prevalence of biodegradable polymers."
Innovative use in a consumer product: First foldable display (Royole Corporation, November)
IDTechEx Analyst Comments: "This is the fastest moving areas for advanced material adoption and there were several contenders. Other notable products include the Dell XPS notebook for the use of silica aerogel and the Huawei Mate 20 X smartphone for the use of graphene, both for thermal management solutions. The winner must be the foldable AMOLED display, with many big players all close to releasing a product it was Royole Corporation who released their FlexPai phone/tablet to be the first to do so. Expect many more in 2019."
Innovative use in an industrial product: Normally-Off Gallium Oxide MOSFET (Flosfia, July)
IDTechEx Analyst Comments: "This again is a very competitive with areas with many diverse news announcements. Ceramic fibers (notably silicon carbide and alumina) continue to have more of a presence as GE Aviation delivered its 25,000th CMC component and Alvant demonstrated a 40% rotor weight saving for electric motors in collaboration with Yasa Motors, GE Aviation, and the NCC. This year also saw graphene being used under-the-hood by Ford and in the armour of China Z-10 assault helicopter. In addition, there was also the first wind turbine to use a high temperature superconductor in Denmark. However, this year the first normally-off gallium oxide MOSFET was fabricated Flosfia. There is increasing interest around this material for power devices and this demonstration shows an indication to the direction many are exploring."
Advancement from Academia: Hematene (Rice University, May)
IDTechEx Analyst Comments: "It is always important to look at academia for some longer-term material development and there were countless papers showing some of the latest advancements even if without a deliberate application. Blue phosphorus was measured for the first time by HZB, Germany, and Hf2Te2P with multiple quantum properties from UCF, USA, plus many more are all of note. The winner is from the Rice University that has achieved much in nanomaterial advancements, and in May published that iron oxide joins the 2D family. With a growing number of 2D materials offering a wide variety of opportunities this continues to be a significant area. Not only are they interesting individually but if combined as building blocks, which is proposed by many, it could be a stepwise change in design and opportunities."