NORMAN — SouthWest Nanotechnologies will break ground today on a $3.9 million manufacturing plant here that officials say will exponentially increase both the number of carbon nanotubes it can produce and Oklahoma's status as a player in the nanotechnology industry.
The 6-year-old company will begin construction on a 15,000-square-foot building on Technology Place, just south of State Highway 9 between 24th Avenue SE and 36th Avenue SE in Norman. When the building is completed and manufacturing begins by spring 2008, the number of nanotubes SouthWest Nanotechnologies can produce will climb from grams per day to kilograms per day, company Chief Executive Officer David Arthur said.
"It's going to be somewhere between 100 to 1,000 times more product each day at this plant,” Arthur said. "We're scaling up our process to produce very large quantities of these single-wall nanotubes. We've been in a mode where we've been very constrained as far as capacity.”
The potential for economic development and commercial production of custom-made, specialized nanotubes will be achieved with the new building, Arthur said. SouthWest Nanotechnologies already has two strategic partners for which it will produce mass quantities of the nanotubes, he said.
"Our target customer is a large Fortune 500 company that has a strategic application they are focused on and has the means to make that application happen,” Arthur said.
Nanotubes will be produced for use in flat panel displays and touch screens such as ATMs used by banking consumers. SouthWest Nanotechnologies will produce nanotubes to be used in the touch screen applications for Honeywell, Arthur said.
In addition, it will produce nanotubes that will be blended with carbon fibers to strengthen light weight products made with the material by a company called Hexcel, he said.
The new building is being built in the 80-acre business park that leaves room for expansion as the business grows, Arthur said.