Leverkusen, Germany -- Multi-wall carbon nanotubes (CNTs) from Bayer MaterialScience AG are to be used to reduce the risk of explosions in fuel tanks. In this use they may have advantages over the reticulated polyurethane or other plastic foams or extruded metal mesh currently used for the purpose, a recent announcement from Bayer said.
BMS and Hirtenberger Prosafe Safety Technology GmbH (HPST), Hirtenberg, Austria, have signed an exclusive worldwide cooperation and supply contract for using Baytubes carbon nanotubes in this application.
Under this agreement, HPST will use Baytubes to make newly developed spheres designed to prevent the formation of explosive gas mixtures in fuel tanks. The spheres are soon to be introduced onto the global market under the name Safeball. They offer considerable advantages over current technologies, the companies claim.
One of these is that the hollow spheres will completely fill a tank, but despite this, the available volume is only reduced by 8.5 percent, the developers say. Safeballs do not only prevent an explosive mixture of gas and air in a tank from exploding, but also allow the tank to 'breathe,' so that significantly smaller quantities of hydrocarbons are released into the environment, they add.
Also, the special shape of the balls allows fuel to flow freely but prevents any dangerous 'surging.' Surging occurs when large volumes of liquid are displaced, for example while a road tanker is in operation, thus affecting the vehicle's stability and even potentially causing it to tip over. When a tank is to be cleaned, the Safeball spheres can be removed easily and then replaced once the operation is complete.