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Huntsman begins construction on new pilot plant for carbon nanotube materials

| By Mary Bailey

Huntsman Corp. (The Woodlands, Tex.) announced construction has commenced on the 30-ton MIRALON carbon nanotube materials plant, originally announced at Huntsman’s 2021 Investor Day event. The new plant, which converts methane gas to carbon nanotubes and clean-burning hydrogen, will be one of the largest of its kind in the Americas. It represents a major step forward in the commercialization of the innovative MIRALON technology and another step closer to an industrial-scale production facility.

“Our business prides itself on bringing advanced materials to market to help our customers solve difficult engineering challenges through innovation,” said Scott Wright, President of Huntsman’s Advanced Materials division. “Today marks a significant step forward in the development of a new class of valuable, sustainable material.”

Huntsman’s carbon nanotube materials plant will be one of the largest of its kind in the Americas (Source: Huntsman)

MIRALON structural carbon products are carbon nanotube-based advanced materials, which can be produced as sheets, tape, yarn, or additives and dispersions. Thinner than a human hair and up to 25 times stronger than steel, MIRALON carbon nanotube materials are lightweight and electrically and thermally conductive – attributes that can benefit a wide variety of applications in aerospace, automotive, construction and other industries. MIRALON carbon nanotube materials can be used in electric vehicle batteries, high-performance composites, engineered thermoplastics, conductive adhesives, specialized concrete, and longer-wear tires.

“One of the interesting aspects of this project is that there are actually two valuable products created through the technology,” said David Hatrick, Vice President of Innovation and Strategic Marketing for Huntsman’s Advanced Materials division. “The first product is the MIRALON carbon nanotube materials which have tremendous opportunity to create better products and new applications that don’t even exist today. The second product resulting from the process is clean hydrogen – a fuel in high demand as society collectively seeks to lower CO2 emissions and accelerate the energy transition.”

The manufacturing process produces clean hydrogen as a by-product, with little to no CO2 emissions. This can play an exciting role in energy transition by minimizing the carbon footprint of many industries, explained John Fraser, Commercial Director for MIRALON technology and materials.

“The carbon footprint related to our manufacturing process can be up to 95% less, when compared to the traditional process of steam methane reforming (SMR), avoiding the majority CO2 emissions normally associated with hydrogen production,” Fraser said. “Co-locating a small MIRALON manufacturing unit on a customer’s site, creates the opportunity to produce hydrogen right where our customers need it. This will allow companies to reduce their carbon footprint and benefit from the potential of CO2 sequestration/capture credits.”

The new plant is expected to be completed by year-end 2023, in line with commitments made at our 2021 Investor Day. In the meantime, our technical and commercial teams are engaging with customers looking to develop innovative solutions with MIRALON materials.