Serbia is becoming the leading center for nanocarbon production in Europe

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Graphene nanotubes are used in many industries – aerospace, construction and infrastructure, packaging, sports equipment and many others. OCSiAl currently has around 1,500 partners worldwide, and in Serbia our focus is on the automotive industry. We are working with the world’s leading manufacturers of key automotive parts, such as batteries, coatings, composites, thermoplastic parts and tires, as graphene nanotubes enable the transition from combustion engine cars to electric vehicles to be accelerated. They offer faster charging, longer mileage and a cheaper lithium-ion battery. At the same time, nanotubes lead to the production of safer tires with less energy or fuel consumption.

This is how Konstantin Notman, CEO of the OCSiAl company, which will soon start production at its factory in Stara Pazova, explains the importance of new technologies and their application in various industries. In an interview with Biznis.rs, he says that the company has already allocated 25 million euros for the project in Serbia, but that more investments will probably be needed, so the total investment could reach the amount of 45 million euros.

“We are currently finishing the installation of the equipment. We expect trial production to start in a few weeks, and serial production already in the first quarter of 2023. The concentrates obtained in this factory will be used in the automotive, aerospace, construction industry, for sporting goods… It is planned that the nanotube synthesis unit, which is actually the center of our nanotube center, will be launched in a year, and in 2024 we plan to we start the production of nanotube dispersions for European and American manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries”, announces Notman.

How many people do you plan to employ in the first phase of the investment?

“OCSiAl Balkan currently employs more than 30 people, but we plan to expand the team as the company launches new production lines.” When operating at its full capacity, the new graphene nanotube production center will create approximately 200 jobs for employees in various sectors, including engineers, technologists, human resource specialists, process operators, scientists and many others.”

How did you decide to invest in Serbia? What are the main advantages of our country, and where have you encountered the biggest challenges?

“Serbia is a country with great business potential, primarily in terms of economic development, proximity to European Union countries and other relevant markets, as well as quality workforce.” These are just some of the reasons why we chose Stara Pazova to build our factory. Serbia plays one of the most important roles in Europe – it is the “bridge” between the Western and Eastern markets, which is fully in line with OCSiAl’s strategy as a global nanotechnology company. You have achieved great success in the economic field, but also in structural reforms to improve the business environment and attract more foreign investors. In recent years, Serbia has been a country with very positive macroeconomic indicators.

Otherwise, the core of our team consists of 100 R&D and technical support experts. Over the years, your country has not only preserved, but also managed to multiply its expertise in engineering, providing access to a highly qualified and professional workforce. In addition to starting production, OCSiAl plans to cooperate with scientific and educational institutions in Serbia.

In terms of challenges, not all processes were the clearest, but we managed to establish good relations with the authorities in Stara Pazova. We hope for any further support from the local administration.”

Will most of the production of OCSiAl in Serbia be intended for export?

“The majority of nanotubes and nanotube derivatives produced in Serbia will primarily be delivered to our partners in Central and Western Europe, as well as in North America. In addition, some high-performance products will be shipped to Asia. By the way, we have launched several projects in the region, and one of the most exciting is the work on antistatic leather for car seats. Autostop Interiors, a Serbian designer and manufacturer of interior parts for the automotive industry, uses our nanotubes to reduce dust that collects on car seats for greater driver and passenger comfort.”

What is the future of graphene?

“Graphene is still a laboratory material that cannot be produced in large quantities, and we believe that it will not be produced on a global scale for the next ten or so years.” The only industrially available form of graphene now is graphene nanotubes. When we talk about the near future, we assume that graphene nanotubes will enable the production of lighter car bodies thanks to the replacement of metals with nanotube-enhanced plastics, then the greater efficiency of renewable energy technologies, to better detect and treat various diseases or to advance the aerospace industry.”

What are your company’s plans for the next period, in Serbia and globally?

“Our unique product and expertise give us the opportunity to become a leader in the field of nanomaterials in the region and contribute to the development of an innovative area of ​​the Serbian economy.” The OCSiAl project will serve as a driver for the creation of new high-performance materials and products in Serbia. As this project develops, we believe that Serbia’s appearance on the global innovation map will also develop – the country will become a leading center for nanocarbon production in Europe.

Also, in the coming years, we are considering launching production facilities in most key regions. As for the confirmed plans, the world’s largest graphene nanotube facility will be launched in 2026 in Differdange, Luxembourg. At the beginning of this year, we received permission from the authorities in Luxembourg for this project”, local media writes.

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