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Process improves usefulness of carbon nanotubes for battery applications

By Scott Jenkins |

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been touted as game-changing nanomaterials in a wide variety of areas, but their actual commercial success has been less than expected thus far. To a large extent, the difficulty has centered around the tendency of CNTs to agglomerate and entangle, which limits their ability to provide the expected mechanical and electrical properties. Now, a process developed by Black Diamond Structures (BDS; Austin, Tex.; www.blackdiamond-structures.com) offers a way to disperse the clumped CNTs so their favorable properties can be exploited in real-world applications. The process involves both chemical and physical manipulation of commercially available CNTs, such that the agglomerations separate and remain dispersed enough to be used in electrodes for lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries. Black Diamond Structures[/caption] “Under an SEM [scanning electron microscope], CNTs appear clumped, like a cotton ball,” says BDS CEO John Hacskaylo. “We developed a commercial-scale process that breaks apart the CNT clumps into individual tubes [see image], so they can exhibit their useful properties in real products.” Beginning with commercial CNTs, the BDS process involves a proprietary method to chemically functionalize…
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