It’s not science fiction. Quite the contrary, it’s becoming science fact.
Springdale-based NanoMech, the nanotechnology firm converting University of Arkansas research to the marketplace, has a new product it’s been testing and it could be huge.
"We don’t split atoms, we sort of move atoms around. And when you do, it gives you the ability to make anything better, cheaper, more durable, last longer and maybe do some things that have never been done before," says NanoMech CEO Jim Phillips.
Nanotechnology is a research field that manipulates matter in a microscopic way allowing for applications. The scale of nanotechnology is so small – a billionth of a meter – or the equivalent of one ten-thousandth the size of a human hair.
Appearing on this week’s edition of Talk Business, Phillips outlined several of the products his fledgling firm has been marketing.
NanoMech makes a product called TuffTek that is a coating applied to cutting equipment to keep it in use longer and to make it more durable. With TuffTek coating, those materials can last 3 times to 10 times longer.
Another product is called NanoGlide, which suspends nanoparticles in oil or lubricants to keep windblades or gears or machinery working better. According to studies, it extends the life of those lubricants by another 30-40%.
A third product is nGuard – a spray used in one application for body armor for the U.S. military. nGuard kills more than 99% of bacteria in that armor. It can also be injected in wood products to eliminate mold and mildew.
And a fourth product, currently known as Element X, could be the most transformative of all of NanoMech’s inventions.
Element X involves a proprietary gas condensation process that takes metals, semi-metals or solids and powderizes them to nano-size.
"When you do that, everything changes in terms of its behavior," says Phillips, who adds that, in essence, the process redefines the element table.
"So if you take aluminum, a chain link fence, whatever, and you put it through our reactor. When it comes out the other side, it’s so powderized that we can now turn it into solid rocket fuel for companies like NASA," he explains.
Phillips provides another example of taking a rock-like element known as selenium and powderizing it. He says that a pound of the powder mixed with water can be sprayed over 60 acres of sterile land and make it fertile without fertilizers or insecticides.
NanoMech has been on our radar for some time. It was the 2011 winner of the Talk Business "One to Watch" award given to a company that has the ability to transform the Arkansas and international business landscape in a positive way.
Watch more of this fascinating "Made in Arkansas" story in the video below.