MechChem Africa

The CSIR together with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) have established the Nanomaterials Industrial Development Facility (NIDF) to enable industry, research entities and SMMEs to develop and scale up high-tech materials.

CSIR Nanomaterials development Nano processing plantThe NIDF strives to enable industry, research entities and small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) to develop and scale up high-tech materials. The focus at present is on using nanotechnology as a key enabler in polymer, cosmetics and other chemical related products. However, cheap imports and the difficulties involved in taking laboratory developed products to the market, as well as the lack of testing and scale-up facilities, often make it difficult for SMMEs and even large companies to start establishing new products and materials.

The NIDF was thus established to assist researchers and engineers to bridge the gap between materials development and commercialisation. In doing so, it anticipates the creation of additional jobs as one of the critical desired outcome of this programme.

NIDF’s objectives and offering

The NIDF offers integrated access to three key research and development components, namely scale-up facilities, well-equipped characterisation laboratories and multi-disciplinary researchers. The facility was specifically designed to enable the transition from laboratory to industrial scale.

The chemical processing plant is equipped with high temperature and pressure chemical reactors, process tanks, a filter press, dryers and a bag house. In the polymer formulation and processing facility we find a 40 l/day co- rotating twin screw extruder, a 500 kN injection moulding machine, a 5-layer cast sheet and blown film co-extrusion line and other smaller processing equipment.

Finally, the characterisation facilities avail- able to users of the NIDF include all typical polymer characterisation and testing equipment as well as highly specialised instruments such as scanning and transmission electron microscopes, which allow material investigations at the nano-level (one nanometre is a million times smaller than a millimetre).

The NIDF offers support to SMMEs and larger companies alike by assisting with scaling up of operations – including further process/technology optimisation – to produce sufficient quantities of material to enable companies to test and develop the market. In addition, its researchers and engineers can help with ...

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