CONCORD, N.H., March 25 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force says it has awarded a phase I contract to Nanocomp Technologies Inc. to research next-generation lightweight electrical wires.
The award, part of the U.S. Department of Defense Small Business Innovation Research program, is for Connecticut-based Nanocomp Technologies to improve on aerospace industry established electrical performance standards in an effort to replace heavier copper wiring.
Nanocomp Technologies was given the award to develop next-generation lightweight, electrically conductive wires, cables and materials made from carbon nanotubes. Company officials say the award will enable the expansion of current methods for producing the CNT sheets and spun conductors.
Officials say traditional copper wiring has a successful history in electronic harnesses. However, the weight of the copper in satellite and aircrafts -- sometimes as much as a third of the total weight -- needs to be reduced for future advancements in the field.
"We are thrilled to have received this important program award from the U.S. Air Force," Peter Antoinette, Nanocomp Technologies president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "It is generally overlooked that modern satellites and aircraft rely upon an invention from the 1800s -- copper-based electrical wires and cables. Our work can result in a true 21st century change in the game, creating electrically optimized carbon nanotube wires and cables, comparable to copper in terms of electrical conductivity but up to 80 percent lighter and more robust."