JX Oil and Energy has entered the nanofiber market. Using a process called CO2 laser supersonic stretching, JX established the technique to manufacture polypropylene nanofibers with 300~500 nm fiber diameter, a range difficult to achieve with conventional methods. The product line of composite nonwovens with nanofiber and base materials (carriers) will be developed, and sample shipments will be started within the year. Target applications include precision filters, separators, heat insulators and medical materials.
Nanofiber technology is focused on industrial fields such as high-performance filters and battery separators, and also in medical fields including tissue engineering. The conventional method of electro-spinning has some problems. For example, only resins soluble in organic solvents are applicable and some solvent remains in the final product. The other conventional method, melt blowing, can’t produce fibers with uniform diameter says the company.
JX’s technique combines CO2 laser supersonic stretching, developed by Yamanashi University, with a fiber dispersion technique obtained through JX’s own nonwoven business. When made into composite nonwovens of 7g/m2, MD tensile strength is 14N/50mm and CD is 5N/50mm. An air permeability rate of 3s/100ml enables low pressure drops for air filters.
So far, test production has been conducted using a lab scale line with 100mm width. Although PP nanofiber is generally known to be difficult to produce, JX has established a manufacturing technique to achieve about 300 - 500nm fiber diameter it says.
As the second step for commercial production, an experiment line with 600mm width was introduced at the end of the last year. With application development ongoing, sample work will be started within this year.
JX’s nonwovens business has a lineup of special nonwovens named CLAF fabric (polyethylene and polypropylene) and Milife fabric (polyester) which are produced by filament aligning and cross laminating technology. Nanofibers will be their third nonwovens business.