Fulcrum’s Genetically Engineered Nanocomposites
According to a March 2013 report from Lucintel, the global composites industry has experienced moderate growth over the last five years but is anticipated to gain momentum, reaching approximately $34.1 billion in 2018 with a CAGR of 5.1% over the next five years. According to a July 2013 report by Transparency Market Research, the demand for nanocomposites in 2011 was over $1.91 billion and is expected to increase to $5.91 billion by 2018, growing at a CAGR of 18.0% from 2012 to 2018. One company looking to take advantage of this growth is Fulcrum SP Materials.
Founded in 2007, Israeli company Fulcrum SP Materials is backed by $3.3 million in funding from the likes of L&S Venture Capital (Korea), Heliant Ventures (Australia), iNetworks 360 (Hong Kong), and Maayan Ventures (Israel). Fulcrum was founded based on research that was initiated at the Hebrew University in 1989. The “SP” in the name “Fulcrum SP Materials” stands for “Stable Proteins”. Fulcrum has genetically engineered a protein that can bind nanoparticles to fabrics, and that disperses nanoparticles in matrixes and adhesives to enhance the performance of carbon polymer-based materials such as fiberglass and Kevlar. Fulcrum claims to be the only company in the world that binds carbon nanotubes to fabrics using a protein, resulting in the production of cost-effective, superior composite materials.
Fulcrum is using the genetically engineered SP1 protein to create self-assembled nanostructures with superior material properties. The protein was originally isolated from aspen trees, and is produced on a large scale using bacterial fermentation. The SP1 physical properties can be easily manipulated by genetic engineering. Fulcrum has assembled a library of genetically modified SP1 proteins tailored to bind a variety of compounds and materials, such as gold, silicon oxide, titanium oxide, and other nanoparticles. The company’s technology has been tested by major global companies and institutes and has demonstrated:
Fulcrum’s technology can be applied to carbon nanotubes from various manufactures for various applications. For example, using carbon nanotubes from Bayer MaterialScience, Fulcrum demonstrated a 50% improvement in shear strength and a 250% increase in shear strength when using their technology to bind the nanotubes to carbon fiber. Fulcrum’s technology is said to increase the toughness of fiberglass composites by at least 30%.
Fulcrum currently sells its SP1 protein and SP1/Carbon Nanotube complex to end customers which include fabrics manufacturers and producers of composite parts and resins. In March of last year, Fulcrum signed a two-year agreement to develop new textile products with the world’s leading industrial thread and consumer textile crafts company, Coats. Just yesterday Fulcrum announced a breakthrough reinforcement solution for phenolic-composites by coating fabric with carbon nanotubes using the SP1 protein. Fulcrum seems to be in a good position to capitalize on the strong projected growth for the nanocomposites market.
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