Sunday, April 15, 2012

Carbon Nanotubes - Material, Manufacturing Process and Manufacturers

Research, Development and Manufacturing News and Views

Carbon Nanotube - Explanation

Graphite is a form of carbon. It is used in pencils. It is also used as a solid lubricant. The lubrication property comes in graphite because it is formed out of sheets of carbon that slide across each other with very little friction. When these sheets are rolled into tubes with diameters of nanomaterial sizes, the output is called carbon nanotubes. Nanotubes are one of the early true nanomaterials.
Carbon nanotubes exhibit breathtaking physical and electrical properties. Some claim that their tensile strength is in excess of 60 times that of high-grade steel. Another claim is that they are  100 times stronger than steel ( ).
In electrical properties, some scientists found that they act like superconductors. Such electrical conductors can solve some problems of current chip design, the waste heat generated in chips. As resistance is negligible in superconducting materials waste heat generated will be also very less.
Nanotubes made from other materials than carbon are called nanowires.
Nanotube and nanowire research and manufacturing is an exciting area. Several startup companies are active in this field and they have a ready market for their output.  But the output is limited and the most sophisticated factories still produce only grams of nanotubes per week.

Carbon Nanotube Manufacturing Process

There are currently at least five methods for producing carbon nanotubes:
(1) Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD),
(2) arc discharge,
(3) laser ablation,
(4) HIPCO®, and
(5) surface mediated growth of vertically-aligned tubes by Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (PECVD).
Although Unidym primarily uses HIPCO® CVD, and PECVD to synthesize commercial-quantities of CNTs, the Company controls foundational intellectual property (IP) covering many of these methods.
HIPCO® - (High Pressure Carbon Monoxide) processing was discovered by Dr. Smalley's team in 1998. The process involves rapidly mixing a gaseous catalyst precursor (such as iron carbonyl) with a flow of carbon monoxide gas in a chamber at high pressure and high temperature. The catalyst precursor decomposes, and nanometer-sized metal particles form from the decomposition products. These tiny metal particles serve as a catalyst. On the catalyst surface, carbon monoxide molecules react to form carbon dioxide and carbon atoms, which bond together to form carbon nanotubes. This process selectively produces 100% single walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs). These carbon nanotubes can be used in electronics, biomedical applications and fuel cell electrodes.

CVD - It involves mixing a carbon containing gas with a metal-catalyst-coated substrate at a high temperature. The carbon atoms separate from the hydrocarbon gas and attach to the catalyst particles and other carbon atoms to form high-quality nanotubes. This process can be used to produce a wide variety of CNT products through modified production conditions and post-processing techniques. This process produces a mixture of nanotubes, i.e., some individual SWNTs, and some "nested" SWNTs. These nanotubes are chemically robust and can be produced in large volumes.
Once carbon nanotubes have been produced, they can be further modified in numerous ways depending on the desired material properties. Such modification may include derivatives, wherein other atoms or molecules are bonded to the nanotube. These atoms or molecules may be covalently bonded to the ends or sidewalls of the nanotube or may be non-covalently bonded, e.g., by Van der Waals or polarization forces. In many instances nanotube derivatives result in "doping" of a nanotube that changes its electronic properties. In addition, derivatization can change other CNT properties that, for instance, make the CNTs more easily dispersed and/or soluble in liquids.

Carbon Nanotube Manufacturers


Nanocomp Technologies Inc.


Nanocomp Technologies Inc (NCTI), based in Concord, NH, was formed in 2004 as a spin-out of Synergy Innovations, Inc., a technology development company. NCTI’s vision is to leverage its proprietary and fundamental advancements in the production of long carbon nanotubes together with a unique ability to fabricate them into physically strong, lightweight, electro-thermally conductive spun yarns and sheets. The company’s goal is to create products with revolutionary performance benefits, creating a new generation of electro-energy and thermal management devices, and advanced structural materials.
Company's capabilities
Commercial manufacturing processes have generally produced only short carbon nanotubes – usually tens of microns long. Also current carbon nanotubes generally are available in powder formats.  In powder form, they can be quite difficult to incorporate into final manufactured goods.  Also, final products made from traditional powdery nanotubes have poor bulk properties - exhibiting less than optimal strength and conductivity (2.1.2010).
NCTI’s patent pending processes change the game. NCTI has developed methods to continuously produce very long, pure, carbon nanotubes, in the millimeter range of length, at high growth rates. Longer nanotubes mean greater strength, higher conductivity, easier handling, and greater product safety.  They are key to providing the attractive properties exhibited by individual tubes.
Today’s nanotubes are also quite expensive – usually too expensive for use in volume industrial applications. This is a result of the significant amounts of impurities generated in their manufacture. Extensive and expensive post growth purification is usually needed to remove these impurities.
NCTI’s process produces very pure materials that do not require post-growth purification. High initial purity, combined with high output production rates hold the promise of achieving excellent process economics and product affordability as we scale the process.
Widespread industrial use of carbon nanotubes has also been limited due to a lack of volume production methods to create long nanotube fibers or sheets, with attractive physical properties, for use in final products.
To address this, NCTI has also developed novel methods to fabricate its nanotubes into structurally strong and electro-thermally conductive fibers, yarns, and sheets.  They are delivering on some of the long awaited promises of carbon nanotubes.
Some Business Deals and Contracts
November 3, 2009 - U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center Extends Body Armor Development Contract with Nanocomp Technologies.

May, 11, 2009 - Nanocomp Technologies Wins Major Research Contract from United States Government
April, 24, 2009 - Nanocomp Technologies Wins Two New Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Contracts from United States Air Force
Production Milestone
Company delivered 10 kilometers of Carbon Nanotube (CNT) yarn to Fortune 100 aerospace customer.
Also achieved a breakthrough by producing  4-foot by 8-foot mat. 
June 16, 2009 — Nanocomp Technologies, Inc., a developer of energy saving performance materials and component products from carbon nanotubes (CNTs), announced that it has produced and delivered 10 kilometers of its CTex™ CNT yarn to one of its Fortune 100 aerospace customers. Delivering long lengths of CNT yarn further solidifies Nanocomp’s position as the only U.S. commercial company to fabricate industrially relevant finished materials from carbon nanotubes.
In addition, the Company ialso announced  its new capability to deliver 4-foot by 8-foot CNT mats, the largest of their kind in the world.
Nanocomp’s fundamental breakthrough is its patent-pending method for high-volume production of very long CNTs (approximately one millimeter in length), and then processing the nanotubes into contiguous macrostructures. Over the past 18 months, the company has been distributing CNT yarn into the marketplace, recently delivering the 10 kilometer shipment to meet its customer’s volume and performance specifications.
“We are steadily proving to the world that nanotubes can deliver their game-changing properties in industrially useful product formats,” said Peter Antoinette, president and CEO of Nanocomp Technologies. The engineers from various  customers are talking about the many new design possibilities that have become available to them with Nanocomp’s products in the mix. The fact that these highly conductive products are lighter and stronger than aluminum, can be draped like a cloth or spun like a yarn or wire, and can tolerate even the harshest of operating environments solves many long-standing design objectives – particularly the challenges of weight reduction.”
Nanocomp is experiencing significant customer demand in the aerospace and aviation markets for nanotube materials to save weight in a variety of complex systems, as well as to provide electrostatic discharge (ESD) and electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding components.


Unidym offers or has under development a range of products that exploit the extraordinary properties of carbon nanotubes. While Unidym's current sales and development efforts are focused on applications in electronics, the company also provides products for the life sciences, automotive, and energy industries.
Specialty Carbon Nanotube Materials
Unidym produces specialized grades of carbon nanotubes in close collaboration with customers and partners. Unidym can tailor the properties of the carbon nanotubes to meet customers' specific needs. Unidym's carbon nanotubes offer conductivity, mechanical stability, and superior environmental resistance in numerous applications.

Transparent Conductive Films and Inks
Unidym has developed CNT-based transparent inks that can be applied to substrates to create Transparent Conductive Films (TCF). These films will replace brittle and expensive indium tin oxide (ITO) films currently used in touch screens, LCD displays, solar cells, and solid state (OLED) lighting.
Unidym's transparent conductive films and innovative CNT materials offer compelling cost and performance benefits to next generation solar cells.
Vertical Aligned Nanotube Array used in thermal Interface Management
Source: ( accessed on 3.2.2010 )
Manufacturing Processes
Unidym primarily uses HIPCO® CVD, and PECVD to synthesize commercial-quantities of CNTs. The Company controls foundational intellectual property (IP) covering many aspects of these methods.
Unidym Offers IP and Technology to Prospective Manufacturers
Licenses. Unidym is interested in negotiating license agreements for its intellectual property related to production of carbon nanotubes, processing of carbon nanotubes (purification, dispersion, and handling), and incorporation of carbon nanotubes into end products.
Companies that might benefit from a license to Unidym intellectual property include:

A company seeking to manufacture nanotube-based products that would like to synthesize carbon nanotubes as part of its manufacturing process.
A company seeking to manufacture nanotube-based products that would like to purchase the carbon nanotubes from a supplier other than Unidym.
A company interested in supplying carbon nanotubes.

Options. Manufacturers across a variety of industries may be considering R&D investments in nanotube-based products. Additionally, start-up companies may be forming to develop nanotube-based products and are seeking to raise capital to fund their operations. Managers, entrepreneurs, and investors may be interested in executing option agreements with Unidym. An option agreement can provide an option holder with access to intellectual property under certain terms and conditions for execution of a license at a future date.
Contact form available on the web page.
(Source: accessed on 3.1.2010 )



Nanocyl is the leading global manufacturer of specialty and industrial Carbon Nanotubes Technologies (CNTs).
Nanocyl S.A., established in 2002, is a leading global manufacturer of specialty and industrial carbon nanotubes. Nanocyl is headquartered in Belgium, and has a division in the U.S. and is opening a subsidiary in Korea. The Asia-Pacific market is covered through a network of partners in South Korea, Japan, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and China. Nanocyl’s products fully meet the requirements of clients active in producing synthetic materials and manufacturing equipment for the automotive and electronic industries.
Product Range
They produce synthetic materials and manufacture equipments for the automotive and electronic industries. They also developing tailor-made solutions for the aeronautic, construction, sports, and marine industries.


The product portfolio is growing, and now includes the widely-used PLASTICYL™, EPOCYL™, AQUACYL™, THERMOCYL™ , BIOCYL ™, PREGCYL™, STATICYL™ products that facilitate the integration of Nanocyl™ NC 7000 in  customers’ applications. Other high quality Carbon Nanotube grades and technologies are also available at competitive prices.

30 November 2009
Sambreville, Belgium –  Nanocyl announced that  it is installing a new reactor with a capacity of 400 metric tons/year for producing its NC 7000 carbon nanotube technologies. The new reactor, scheduled to come online in July 2010, will be located in Sambreville, Belgium.
“We have successfully scaled up our carbon nanotube production technology.” stated Francis Massin, Chief Executive Officer of Nanocyl. “This new unit will complement the existing reactor that we have already up scaled to 60 metric tons/year..”
“This new unit will complement the 3000 tons/year extrusion line we installed midyear that is enabling us to offer PLASTICYL™ thermoplastic concentrates for new applications requiring electrical conductivity and protection from electrostatic discharge (ESD),” he said.
According to Massin, Nanocyl also added the capability in September to compound high temperature thermoplastics, such as PEEK, to address the demands of the semicon industry for CNTs that requires also resistance to chemicals.

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