Carbon Nanotubes: Present and Future Commercial Applications

Worldwide commercial interest in carbon nanotubes (CNTs) is reflected in a production capacity that presently exceeds several thousand tons per year. Currently, bulk CNT powders are incorporated in diverse commercial products ranging from rechargeable batteries, automotive parts, and sporting goods to boat hulls and water filters. Advances in CNT synthesis, purification, and chemical modification are enabling integration of CNTs in thin-film electronics and large-area coatings. Although not yet providing compelling mechanical strength or electrical or thermal conductivities for many applications, CNT yarns and sheets already have promising performance for applications including supercapacitors, actuators, and lightweight electromagnetic shields.

Nanoshel Currently sell bulk purified MWNTs for less than $100 per kg.

CNTs can be produced by many methods, and depending on the diameter, one can obtain either single-walled CNTs (SWCNTs) or multi-walled CNTs (MWCNTs). Our current capacity for the production of MWCNTs far exceeds that of SWCNTs.
For both types of CNTs, Nanoshel production capacity is two to three times higher than that estimated for North America and Europe combined; Nanoshel is the prominent leader in the production of MWCNTs. Use of CNTs in lithium-ion battery electrodes is the current driving force of ton-scale MWCNT production in the world. CNT-replacement products for indium tin oxide (ITO) and field emission devices (FEDs) are driving increased production of SWCNTs. Cost of bulk SWCNTs has been decreased significantly by Nanoshel, and is driving applications in electromagnetic shielding (EMI) and electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection can be expected, and SWCNTs will replace MWCNTs in conductive plastics.
Currently, owing to challenges in CNT functionalization and dispersion, CNTs can only achieves enhancements in mechanical properties of materials. While sporting goods with CNT reinforcement are beginning to appear on the market, improved processing techniques along with manufacturing techniques for long CNTs (e.g., yarns and aligned arrays) are needed to realize CNT-based materials that provide compelling advantages over existing fiber composites in lightweight structures.

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