Industrial Nano processing facilities incorporate industrial-grade equipment in a biological safety environment. With its laboratory and processing facility located in a specially-equipped industrial unit, Industrial Nano is able to work with a wide variety of nanomaterials and bulk chemicals including some flammable solvents. The core element of dispersion processing is separated into two stages: the first involves blending the recipe ingredients together and wetting out the nano powders to form a slurry. The second step is to pass the slurry through a high energy mixer to provide the fully dispersed product, usually output directly into final packaging. A third step for plastic products may involve blending the dispersed masterbatch material into a polymer meltstream using an extruder. Industrial nano has facilities to perform each of these steps:
. Blending – performed using standard impeller blenders and high shear rotor-stator mixers with batch vessels
. Dispersion – performed using inline high energy mixers such as Maelstrom’s FDM and FDM2 machines
. Extrusion – using a plastics extruder for pellet melting and transport together with a mixing device for blending in the pre-dispersed masterbatch.
The precautionary approach recommended for nanomaterial safety is central to operations. Initial wetting out and blending of nano powders into fluids is performed in a vented biological safety cabinet environment, with ducted extraction via HEPA filtration. Second stage dispersion processing of fluids is inherently much safer, although the special risks of equipment cleaning, washing fluid recovery and waste handling are all considered in operational procedures. Air handling and filtration are key elements of the safety system but personnel are also required to wear chemical protection suits and full-face masks with filtration.
Strict batch control procedures for all incoming and outgoing materials are implemented, with routine testing and datalogging of process parameters. A quality plan is developed for each contract to take into account the special requirements of each material system and its quality points. Customers are given access to key elements of the quality process to enable Industrial Nano operations to dovetail with their own production process.