NASA has one of the few facilities in the world able to produce quality Boron Nitride Nanotubes BNNTs. Carbon nanotubes can stay stable at temperatures up to 400 degrees Celsius but BNNTs can withstand up to 900 degrees Celsius. BNNTs are also able to handle high amounts of stress and are extremely lightweight.
While the study has brought new light to the strength and stability of BNNTs, their use on planes may not be a reality for another five to 10 years. "Right now, BNNTs cost about $1,000 per gram. It would be impractical to use a product that expensive," said Ke. But, that does not mean it will never happen. Carbon nanotubes were about the same price 20 years ago. As more studies indicated the usefulness of carbon nanotubes, the production rates increased and prices went down to the current rate, between $10 and $20 per gram. Ke sees the same fate coming down the line for BNNTs.