Shaheen visits Nanocomp to learn about its partnership with NASA

Jim Reuter, acting associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, left, and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., in Merrimack on Monday join Nanocomp Technologies Inc. employee Josea Hobbs for a demonstration of how the carbon-based material Miralon is being used as a heat shield.

MERRIMACK – Monday, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., joined leaders from NASA and Merrimack Huntsman Company’s Nanocomp Technologies Inc. to tour the Nanocomp facility and learn about new nanotechnology.

Officials believe this technology could make spaceflight and exploration less expensive by using materials that would create lighter spacecrafts and launch vehicles.

In September, NASA contracted with Nanocomp as part of the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant. The SBIR programs

incentivize small businesses to create ideas that meet the needs of the federal government. This grant will aid Nanocomp in the continuation of developing a carbon-based material called Miralon and covers a 15-month base period, followed up a 17-month operation for ongoing development. The potential combined value for this project is about $8.1 million.

As defined on Nanocomp’s website, Miralon is the “carbon-based advanced material that enables strong, lightweight, environmentally resistant solutions.” It allows thermal transport across several material formats and applications.

Staff photos by Grace Pecci Kristin Taylor of Huntsman Co., left, on Monday in Merrimack, allows NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate Acting Associate Administrator Jim Reuter and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., to test out the new thermal chair that has been created. The heat in this chair is coming through a pad with Miralon in it.

During the time spent at Nanocomp, there were multiple demonstrations. As proven by heated furniture, Miralon will not just be used to improve scientific technologies. Kristin Taylor with Huntsman showed Shaheen and NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Jim Reuter the new heated seat that has a Miralon heater built straight into the seat cushion. Taylor said with this new technology, people will be able to “build their own environments” in an energy-efficient and safe matter. The seats can be built into desks in an office, brought outdoors in a patio chair, or even put into an automotive. Taylor showed the Miralon heater, which is a thin sheet made out of flexible material.

At the end of the tour, Shaheen said the application of Miralon is revolutionary.

“What this could mean for the future, reducing carbon uses in the atmosphere, this is amazing and really exciting because it’s happening here,” Shaheen said.

Of the next 15-17 months that NASA will be partnered with Nanocomp and Huntsman, Reuter said, “For us, this is an exciting time.”

Nanocomp has been located in Merrimack since 2012. Managing Director John Gargasz said there are more than 50 people employed, but the company is looking to add more staff. They also are connected through a number of universities and allow internship opportunities to both college and high school students. Gargasz said the company loves to recruit young talent.

Nanocomp is hoping to expand in the future. The center can be found at 57 Daniel Webster Hwy. in Merrimack.

Grace Pecci can be reached at 594-1243, or gpecci@nashuatelegraph.com.