Senator Jeanne Shaheen, NASA and state officials toured a company in Merrimack Monday that's making high-strength and lightweight materials using nanotechnology.
Nanocomp employee Hosea Hobbs demonstrated operation of a machine that turns carbon nanotubes into ultrastrong thread. Think of spinning wool inside of a hot furnace. Or, “kinda more like a cotton candy, but yeah, that's exactly what it's doing," Hobbs said.
Jim Reuter, acting associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, says these materials have a wide-range of applications in space, which is part of the reason the agency is pumping some $8 million into Nanocomp over the next couple years.
"Ultra-high-strength, super-lightweight materials can be a game-changer for us in terms of performance for rockets and spacecraft,” Reuter said.
Nanocomp VP of Engineering Dave Gailus says the NASA investment will allow the company to develop a high strength-per-weight fiber. “The second phase is to build the infrastructure to produce it in a higher volume, millions of meters per year,” Gailus said.
Nanocomp, which started with three people in 2004 now employees about 50. According to a new report, the Granite State gained almost 900 tech jobs last year, with manufacturing the largest tech sector employer.