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PRODUCTION AND APPLICATIONS OF CARBON NANOTUBES, CARBON NANOFIBERS, FULLERENES, GRAPHENE AND NANODIAMONDS: A GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY SURVEY AND MARKET ANALYSIS
Publish Date: Feb 2011,   Pages: 531,   Report Code: ET-113
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Nanotechnology is one of the most important technologies in this century and it is evoking a new industrial revolution. Nanotechnology is changing basic research in the fields of information technology, biological science, environmental science, energy sources, material science, and others. The trend of industrial elements toward small features, high density, fast transmission, low energy cost and high production rate, has generated a greater requirement of miniaturization for elemental materials. Nanomaterial containing nanostructures are the best material to fulfill these needs.  Carbon nanotubes are among the most broadly discussed, researched and applied. 

 

Since their discovery in 1991, carbon nanotubes have attracted much attention and research funding, due to the strength of their cylindrical structure, which is constructed of a hexagonal array of carbon atoms.  Their structure, as well as the unique electrical, magnetic, and optic characteristics have generated a huge potential of industrial and scientific applications. The fields of carbon nanotube applications include: photo-electric elements, electric elements, biomedical science, energy materials, and artificial diamonds. International technology and industry are focused on this technology, without regard to countries, or research fields.  International industrial giants with interest in this technology include IBM, Intel, and NASA in the United States, NEC, Samsung and Showa Denko Companies in Japan, and Max-Planck Institute in Germany. International technology companies are keenly interested in the application of the carbon nanotube to current and future technologies.  There can be as many as 40 billion carbon nanotubes contained in a square millimeter. 

 

Carbon nanotubes are microscopic, tube-shaped structures, which essentially have a composition of a graphite sheet rolled into a tube. Carbon nanotubes have unique, interesting and potentially useful electrical and mechanical properties, and offer potential for various uses in electronic devices. Carbon nanotubes also feature extremely high electrical conductivity, very small diameters (much less than 100 nanometers), large aspect ratios (i.e. length/diameter ratios greater than 1000), and a tip-surface area near the theoretical limit (the smaller the tip-surface area, the more concentrated the electric field, and the greater the field enhancement factor). These features make carbon nanotubes ideal for electron field emitters, white light sources, lithium secondary batteries, hydrogen storage cells, transistors, and cathode ray tubes (CRTs).

 

Carbon nanotubes can be used in applications that include Field Emission Devices, memory devices (high-density memory arrays, memory logic switching arrays), Nano-MEMs, AFM imaging probes, distributed diagnostics sensors, and strain sensors. Other key applications include: thermal control materials, super strength and light weight reinforcement and nanocomposites, EMI shielding materials, catalytic support, gas storage materials, high surface area electrodes, and light weight conductor cable and wires.

 

Other carbon nano products include graphene, a flat two-dimensional sheet of carbon atoms, which is reminiscent of chicken wire and is used as substitutes for carbon nanotubes. Fullerenes, originally called Buckminster fullerenes for their geodesic dome shape, (which also resemble microscopic soccer balls) find use in chemical planarization. Carbon nanofibers find use as battery and composite additives.   

 

 

STUDY GOAL AND OBJECTIVES

 

The goal of the study was to perform an exhaustive look at the field of nanocarbon materials, with a focus on single wall carbon nanotubes (SWNT), multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWNT) and fullerenes, while also investigating carbon nanofiber production and technology. More than 180 companies were found to be manufacturing nanocarbon materials that measured 100 nanometers, or less. Those companies are profiled in the report, which includes contact information.  Companies that have gone out of business, or merged with other companies in the past two years, are also noted.

 

Further, an exhaustive search was made of companies, which are incorporating carbon nanotubes and other nanocarbon materials into products that are now being sold. In addition, the study looked at products, which are under development, and are likely to enter the market in the next five to ten years.  The activities of more than 900 companies and institutions in the past two years are noted. 

 

The study set out to find the extent to which carbon nanotubes are being actively researched for new products, and by how many companies.  The author found that there are about 160 companies worldwide, which are pursuing the manufacture of various forms of nanocarbon.  There are more than 1,000 companies and institutions that are developing, or producing products, which incorporate carbon nanotubes.  While sales may be measured in thousands of tons for the first time in 2010, the activity in developing new products is intense, and new manufacturing techniques that overcome prior problems are being developed by a wide range of companies.

 

The study set out to determine the cost of constructing carbon nanotube and other forms of nanocarbon manufacturing facilities, as well as the cost of the chemicals and processes needed to accomplish that goal.   

 

 

REASONS FOR DOING THE STUDY

 

Nanotechnologies can advantageously be used to provide elements embedded, or associated with paths (e.g. thermal, power, signal, and data), control devices (e.g. switch and valve), sensors (e.g. temperature, vibration, strain, radiation and light), and "intelligent" devices (e.g. processor and Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA)).

 

Nanotechnology refers to technology development at the atomic, molecular, or macromolecular levels, in length scale of approximately 1-100 nanometer range. Nanotechnology offers significant performance improvements over the capabilities of today's technology. For example, Carbon Nanotube (CNT) is a new form of carbon configurationally equivalent to a two dimensional graphene sheet rolled into a tube. The nanotubes have diameters, which range from a few nanometers to <100 nanometers).  Their lengths vary from micrometers to millimeters, at current state of technology development.

 

Carbon nanotube has the potential to improve tensile strength of steel by several hundred times, aluminum thermal conductivity  by 600 times, while improving copper electrical conductivity by orders of magnitude.

 

There are a number of advantages in using nanotube materials: data signal, and power paths can be constructed with nano material exhibiting superior electrical conductivity. Also, the nano material exhibits superior thermal conductivity and can be used to construct the thermal paths (e.g. in terms of nano heat pipe). Such material is being currently developed in various private and government institutions worldwide. Nano sensors, such as optical and photovoltaic, are also being developed by private companies and government institutions, as are nano electromechanical systems (NEMS).

 

With this background of CNT enabling many nanotechnology applications, iRAP felt a need to conduct a detailed study, which includes current and emerging technologies, new developments and market opportunities. Since carbon nanofibers, fullerenes, graphene and nanodiamonds are in the same family of materials, we have included them in this study.

 

 

CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE STUDY

 

The study counts more than 700 companies incorporating carbon nanotubes into products for aerospace and aviation, automotive, composites and coatings, energy, environmental, information technology, manufacturing, medical, MEMS and NEMS, military and defense, advanced polymers, sensor, as well as sports and textile applications. Additionally, more than 180 companies are manufacturing nanocarbon materials, including single wall nanotubes, multiwall carbon nanotubes, fullerenes, nanodiamonds, carbon nanofiber and graphene. 

 

 

SCOPE AND FORMAT

 

The primary focus of the report is the production of multi-wall carbon nanotubes and single wall carbon nanotubes (SWNT).  However, attention is paid to producers of nano-carbon fibers that range above and below the threshold for nanotechnologies, having a measurement smaller than 100 nanometers. The report examines production of carbon nanomaterial in Europe, Asia and North America

 

Attention is also paid to producers and consumer of graphene, which is basically an unrolled carbon nanotube, consisting of a single atom layer of carbon molecules. The report provides a brief, but thorough, update on activities in the field of carbon nanomaterials for the past two years and projects their growth through 2015.

 

Both the International Standards Organization (ISO) and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) subdivide nanomaterials into “nano-objects” and “nano-structured materials.” According to ISO TS 27687, nano-objects include nanoplates, nanofibers and nanoparticles, and are nano-scale at least in their exterior measurements. In other words, they measure between one and 100 nanometers in length, width or height. Another ISO working group is currently working on the hierarchy and definitions of nanostructured materials, which include materials with a nanoscale structure within the material or on its surface. Prominent examples are nanocomposites, agglomerates and larger aggregates.

 

These kinds of aggregates and agglomerates are composed of primary particles (<100 nm), which occur at an intermediate stage during the manufacturing process and react with each other under the relevant process conditions to form larger stable aggregates. In these aggregates, the primary particles are firmly connected by a chemical bond. For their part, the aggregates form micrometer-size agglomerates as a result of van der Waals forces.

 

The nanographite structure/metal nanoparticle composites have clear industrial applications. For example, due to its mechanical and/or electrical properties, the nanographite composites can be used in structures ranging from clothes and sports gear, to combat jackets and space elevators, as well as in semiconductors, fluorescent indicator tubes, fuel cells, and gas storage. Furthermore, the composite can also have biomedical/biotechnological applications, such as vectors for gene therapy, cosmetics, drug delivery systems, and biosensors.

 

A nanofiber is an ultra-fine fiber having a diameter of 1-800 nm, and has various physical properties that cannot be gained from a conventional fiber. A nanofiber web, used as a membrane type porous materia,l may be usefully applied to various fields, such as filters, wound dressings, artificial supporters, defensive clothes against biochemical weapons, separation membranes for secondary batteries, and nanocomposites.

 

 

TO WHOM THE STUDY CATERS

 

The study caters to those who wish to know the depth and breadth of the markets for carbon nanotubes and other nano-carbon materials.   Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have recently attracted considerable attention due to their unique electronic, mechanical and structural properties. Carbon nanotubes have been shown to be electrically conductive, while concurrently having high tensile strength and elasticity, as well as the ability to absorb gas molecules as nanocapillaries, the potential of further chemical functionalization, and chemical and thermostability. These qualities make carbon nanotubes prime candidates for use in nanomolecular and/or electronic devices.

 

 

REPORT SUMMARY

 

Nanocarbon products include single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT) and multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNT), fullerenes, graphene, carbon nanofiber and nanodiamonds. Production capacity for all products increased from 996 metric tons in 2008 to more than 2190 tons in 2009 and 4065 tons of capacity in 2010, and is expected to exceed 12,300 tons in 2015, a compound annual growth rate of 24.8% a year. Total production value is expected to reach about $435 million in 2010 and reach a value of $1.3 billion in 2015.

 

Major findings of this report are:

 

 

·        Production capacity far exceeds actual production. Only about 340 tons of carbon nano products were produced in 2008, about 500 tons in 2009 and about 710 tons are expected to have been produced in 2010, which represents about 17% of capacity. However, actual production is expected to reach more than 9300 tons in 2015, representing a growth rate of 67.3% annually and about 80% of production capacity.

 

·        Prices for all products are expected to fall by an average of about 12% a year for the next five years.

 

·        Growth is chiefly driven by multi-walled carbon nanotubes. World production capacity for multi-wall carbon nanotubes exceeded 390 tons in 2008, reached 1,500 tons in 2009, and is expected to exceed 3,400 tons per year (tpy) by the end of 2010. Producytion capacity for MWNT is projected to reach 9,400 tons by 2015. 

 

·        SWNTs are the most expensive nano carbon product. They are much more difficult to produce than MWCNTs and are best suited for electronic applications. In 10 to 15 years, SWNT are expected to replace silicon as the key material in computer chips. 

 

·        Despite the quickly growing capacity for carbon nanotubes, demand has not yet caught up with capacity.  However, manufacturers have been increasing capacity in order to be ready to capitalize on that future demand, which is expected to grow rapidly over the next five to ten years. 

 

·        For both SWNTs and MWNTs, Asia’s production capacity is two to three times higher than that estimated for North America and Europe combined; Japan is the prominent leader in the production of MWNTs, but China and Korea are rapidly catching up.  Use of CNTs in lithium-ion battery electrodes is the current driving force of ton-scale MWNT production in Japan.

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