NanoBioMatters Industries S.L. still qualifies as a startup company, but at K 2010 it gave attendees a glimpse into its big plans for the future.
The Valencia, Spain-based maker of organoclay additives was founded in 2004 by a scientist, Jose Maria Lagaron, who had expertise in nanoclay technology, food additives, and polymer reinforcement.
Spanish investment firm AxÃ³n Capital e Inversiones SGECR SA made a cash infusion into the business in 2007. During the last three years NanoBioMatters has invested about $10 million in plant and laboratory equipment.
Now the company employs 32 and is a growing player in the market for clay and polymer masterbatch, said Ole Faarbaek, vice president for business development and marketing, in an interview at the Dusseldorf trade show.
Faarbaek, who is based at the company's NanoBioMatters North America LLC office in Boston, said the company differentiates itself from other suppliers of clay-based materials that primarily use one kind of clay, montmorillonite.
NanoBioMatters works with several types of clays as well as several different patented surface-modification technologies. This results in advanced properties that are particularly suited for packaging, such as creating an excellent barrier for long shelf life.
At K 2010, which ran Oct. 27 to Nov. 3, the company introduced a new series of oxygen-scavenging additives made with its organoclay technology, which can be dispersed directly into packaging materials.
NanoBioMatters touted the materials as being simpler, less costly, and more convenient than conventional scavenging techniques such as ultraviolet-activated systems and oxygen-scavenger packets.
The O2Block materials are based on surface-modified phyllosilicate clay that is functionalized with active iron, creating an oxygen-scavenging product that is efficient and naturally sourced.
All the ingredients in O2Block are generally recognized as safe by the European Union and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the company expects food-contact approval in early 2011.
We just passed the development stage, and we're launching it here at the K show, Faarbaek said. Now we're working with the world's biggest packaging companies to evaluate the material. We've given them internal data, and we have raised their interest.
As far as the future is concerned, Faarbaek said the company will have a production presence in the United States in the near future. The United States is a promising market, because a number of packaging companies are likely to be early adopters of the technology.
NanoBioMatters will generate about $3.5 million in sales this year, which is the first year it has had a commercial product. The firm is working on a variety of other products that will take advantage of its nanoclay research.
NanoBioMatters operates a 5.5 million-pound-per-year additive plant in Vall D'UixÃ³, Spain, and a 8.8 million-pound-per-year masterbatch production facility in Valencia.