Role of carbon nanotubes in next gen. batteries
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are one-dimensional nanostructures that have many applications in advanced batteries, such as lithium-ion batteries, lithium-air batteries, and zinc-air batteries. CNTs can play different roles in these batteries, such as conductive additives, active materials, flexible substrates, and protective layers.
What are carbon nanotubes?
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are cylindrical nanostructures composed entirely of carbon atoms.
They are one of the allotropes of carbon, and single-walled carbon nanotubes have diameters around 0.5–2.0 nanometers, about 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
Carbon nanotubes have extraordinary mechanical, electrical, thermal, optical, and chemical properties, which make them suitable for various applications in nanotechnology, electronics, optics, and other fields of materials science.
Carbon nanotubes are currently used in multiple industrial and consumer applications, including battery components, polymer composites, high-strength fabrics, biosensors for biomedical and agricultural applications, and many others
Role of Carbon Nanotubes in the battery industry
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are gaining traction as a conductive additive at the cathode of lithium-ion batteries (LiBs), paving the way for significant expansion in the CNT market.
CNTs have progressed beyond their commercial journey’s hype and disillusionment phases by finding value-added high-volume energy storage adoption. The upcoming success is attributed to using multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) as a conductive additive in the cathode for LiBs. This is introduced as a slurry with other additives, and the amount of loading depends on the active material and price-performance considerations.
The nanotubes are used for their excellent conductive and mechanical properties with an advantageous 1D morphology. There are numerous advantages including the potential to use thicker electrodes, operate at higher C-rates, and many more. Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) continue to explore the energy storage space with the likes of OCSiAl, particularly with the new 2021 investor Daikin Industries, Zeon Corporation, and Zeta Energy making announcements here.
Some of the advantages of CNTs in batteries are:
They have high electrical and thermal conductivity, which can improve the performance and stability of the electrodes.
They have a large surface area and porosity, which can provide more sites for lithium-ion storage and transport.
They have excellent mechanical flexibility and strength, which can enable the fabrication of bendable and wearable batteries.
They can prevent the growth of dendrites, which are harmful metal deposits that can cause short circuits and battery failure
Companies working on this new technology:
Cnano: A US-based company that produces single-walled carbon nanotubes from CO2 and uses them as conductive additives and active materials for lithium-ion batteries.
LG Chem: A South Korean company that is scaling production of carbon nanotubes for both LG Energy Solution and beyond. They use carbon nanotubes as conductive additives and protective layers for lithium-ion batteries.
Cabot Corporation: A US-based company that acquired SUSN, a Chinese company that specializes in carbon nanotubes for battery applications. They use carbon nanotubes as conductive additives and active materials for lithium-ion batteries.
Toyocolor: A Japanese company that announced in 2021 that they will supply carbon nanotubes to SK Innovation, a South Korean battery manufacturer. They use carbon nanotubes as conductive additives and active materials for lithium-ion batteries.
NoPo Technologies: An Indian startup that produces carbon nanotubes from agricultural waste and uses them as conductive additives and active materials for zinc-air batteries.