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Production of Advanced Nano Diamond Additives (PANDA) for various industries, science and medicine

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PANDA (Production of Advanced Nano Diamond Additives (PANDA) for various industries, science and medicine)

Reporting period: 2016-10-01 to 2017-03-31

Nanodiamonds (ND) due to their unique properties have been applied recently in wide range of technologies: wafers and optical crystals polishing, antifriction treatment reducing wear, diverse metallic and polymeric coatings, reinforcing plastics and elastomers, heat dissipation in electronics, fabrication of onion-like carbons for energy storage and EMI shielding, radiation resistant composites and diverse biomedical solutions (cancer treatment, early diagnostics and cell imaging). Most advanced applications require high purity and homogeneity of ND particles and their ability to be uniformly dispersed within various media. Novel technology for fabrication ND by laser treatment of specially prepared hydrocarbon targets has been developed and implemented in a laboratory scale.

Production of Advanced Nano-Diamond Additives (PANDA) and their implementation in industrial scale is actual challenge enabling breakthroughs in medicine, electronics, machinery & energy. Technological, practical and economic viability of RAY’s process scaling was investigated for the establishing industrial Production of Advanced Nano-Diamond Additives (PANDA).

Unique properties of diamond (hardness and wear resistance, the highest thermal conductivity combined with strong electrical insulation, outstanding optical and electronic properties, chemical and radiation resistance) and specific features of diamond nano-particles (tiny sizes defining high surface area and hybrid surface structure with various functional groups enabling interaction with diverse media and “transferring” them unique properties of diamond). ND applications include coatings, fine polishing, functional polymers and lubricants as well as scientific research for the development of new ND applications in medicine, neutron physics, energy and chemistry. The main problems limiting wide use of ND in industry are non-constant quality (particle size distribution and surface reactivity) and the absence of industrial technologies for ND disaggregation in various media. Therefore, despite highly promising investigation results and hundreds million euro spent for ND research (particularly, by numerous EU programs) the Global ND Market is still in its initial stage.

Unique ND properties can be exploited for the creation of new objects, materials and technologies in wide range of applications not existing yet. New efficient drugs & novel approaches for cancer and other diseases’ treatment, quantum computers & field emitters, efficient energy storage devices & new-generation power sources, nano-electronic & big air-space devices and other not-end opportunities.

The extensive market research and numerous discussions with potential consumers have leaded RAY to the key insight and defined the product offering as finished products, ready-to-use additive instead of raw ND required special treatment for disaggregation and uniform mixing within various media. PANDA Business Plan (BP) is aimed the manufacturing of products meeting Market demands: ND powders with a specially modified surface enabling homogeneous mixing some basic materials, ND slurries (stable suspensions based on various solvents) and masterbatches (highly concentrated ND composite with finely dispersed and disaggregated particles based on the same polymer to be improved).
This Feasibility Study and the successful completion of the tasks enables RAY to overcome the major risk factors inherent in the transition to the industrial fabrication of ND powder. Great technological breakthrough was reached in the optimization of the existing ND synthesis process and in the technology scaling. A new effective marketing strategy has been developed and tested in practice. Market analysis resulted in better understanding of business potential and attracting strategic partners, big potential consumers of RAY products. A realistic Business Plan was prepared for the submission project proposal for the Phase 2 of the project.
The performed feasibility study has determined the viability of the proposed business idea, - to establish industrial production of ND powders and ANDA.
Ray Techniques Ltd. (RAY) fabricates nanodiamonds (ND) and ND compounds by proprietary technology in laboratory terms.
Technological, practical and economic viability of RAY’s process scaling was investigated for the establishing industrial Production of Advanced Nano-Diamond Additives (PANDA).
Five tasks were carried out during the project:

1) Feasibility study of industrial laser ND (LND) synthesis of >1 ton per year: feasibility criteria; the existing process optimization & definition of laser parameters to be scaled; approaches for output increase; experiments, design of a principal scheme & technical requirements; receiving proposals from laser suppliers, analysis & a laser system choice: Q-switched laser with a disc amplifier, calculated output: 600 g/hour.

2) Equipment selection: principle design of 2 manufacturing lines for LND & for Advanced ND Additives (ANDA): choice of all equipment; quotation receipt; testing of key devices.

3) Market research & marketing strategy: Global Market volume for ND and for ANDA in each field of the existing ND applications, - polymers, coatings, fine polishing and lubricants, as well as for most promising emerging ND applications; list of targeted customers; a new marketing strategy oriented on partnerships with leading market players and on the development of final formulations in cooperation with potential consumers.

4) Knowledge dissemination & partners attraction: project results presented at 2 conferences; participation in 2 exhibitions; establishing contacts & presentations of RAY technology to Cabot, Huntsman, Lubrizol and Sinmat, world leaders in polymers & polishing slurries for electronics, functional composites, lubricants and SiC wafers respectively, & to Kafrit, domestic potential partner producing polymer additives for EU market; numerous samples of ANDA provided to academic & industrial groups for evaluation; provisional application for patent to protect the developed industrial system for ND synthesis; new internet site oriented to sales with PANDA presentation.

5) Business plan: profit & loss forecast, cash flow, revenue forecast, salaries & investment plan for 3.6 M€; PANDA project proposal submitted for Phase2 SME-Ins program.
Significant technological progress, clear market demands, a new business strategy & attraction of potential partners confirmed by LoI and a strong business plan enable successful implementation of PANDA and considerable impact on EU industry, science and medicine.
PANDA will reach the industrial readiness and maturity by the end of the 2020, providing European customers with various ANDA products of high quality and attractive cost. The project results approved the feasibility of the PANDA objectives.

The technological possibility of 200-fold increase in the productivity of the laser ND synthesis has been confirmed.
Equipment for a full technological chain for industrial PANDA implementation was selected.
After transition to the mass production, the cost of ND powders and compounds will drop considerably.
The combination of the highest quality of the product, the lowest price, the ease of the integration into existing technological processes, non-toxicity and the winning marketing strategy guarantee the rapid market penetration.

The scaling of the developed technology of laser ND synthesis and ND surface modification in the combination with the new business approach (to supply ready to use additives instead of raw ND) will enable immediate increase in the size of the Global ND Market and a strong impact on a lot of technological processes and products, as well as significant breakthroughs in some fields of science and medicine.

There are a few examples of prospective ND applications which can lead to considerable breakthroughs in various industries, science and medicine.

A. Thermally conductive plastics
B. Catalysts for chemical processes
C. Contrast, drug delivery and therapeutic agents for cancer treatment.
D. Neutron physics