Canada Eyes Lighter, Stronger Armor

Canada Eyes Lighter, Stronger Armor

VICTORIA, British Columbia — Canadian defense scientists are aiming to create armor that is 25 percent lighter than existing materials while offering the same or more protection.

The Canadian program will use boron nitride nanotubes or BNNTs, which are 100 times stronger than steel and have 17 times the strength of Kevlar.

While boron nitride nanotubes have been seen as a new potential material for armor, what makes the Canadian effort different is that the scientists have put in place the largest production capacity in the world for BNNTs. That creates the first possibility of producing the advanced material on a large scale.

“It shows a lot of promise and [it’s] the one we’re focusing on the most right now,” said Guy Vezina, director general, science and technology – Army for Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC).

DRDC is the science and research organization for the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence.

BNNTs are an advanced material similar in structure to carbon nanotubes. Both types of miniature materials are developed in a laboratory and are known for their strength and fire retardant properties.

But BNNTs have an advantage in that they can survive temperatures to around 800 degrees Celsius, about twice as high as carbon nanotubes. BNNTs are more chemically stable, and they are also transparent.

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