"Nanocor has a great technology for nanoclay-production and strong intellectual property covering a variety of nanocomposites," said H James Otsuka, global business manager, Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company. "At Mitsubishi Gas Chemical we will continue to develop innovative technologies that satisfy consumer demand for higher gas-barrier applications."

High-barrier plastics boost the shelf life of food and drink by cutting down gas access to the products. The companies say that they plan to focus on the multilayer-barrier market for films, bottles and thermoformed sheets. The alliance will combine Nanocor's nanocomposite technology with Mitsubishi Gas Chemical's nylon products, including the high-gas-barrier nylon-MXD6.

Dispersing nanometre-sized particles of clay within MXD-6 nylon can create a more difficult path for the passage of gas, further increasing a product's shelf life. Such nanocomposite technology can also help to maintain package clarity after heat treatment.

Nanocor and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical intend to conclude a definitive agreement in the third quarter of 2002. The companies plan to start shipping products shortly afterwards.

Nanocor is a wholly owned subsidiary of AMCOL International.