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Creating Carbon Composites for Climate: Optimizing Bulk Carbon Nanotube Products to Achieve Performance of Steel, Aluminum and Carbon Fiber

Event Type
Mechanical Science and Engineering
2043 Sidney Lu Mechanical Engineering Building
Aug 8, 2023   2:00 pm  
Professor Adam Boies, Nanomaterials and Aerosol Engineering, and Head of the Energy Faculty Group, Cambridge University Engineering Department
Amy Rumsey

Abstract: The functional properties of nano-carbons are well known, but only in the last three years have large-scale materials composed of nano-carbons demonstrated strength, thermal and electrical properties that meet or exceed steel, aluminum and carbon fiber. Macroscopic materials composed of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) form networks of bundles which serve as the functional unit that spans the extent of the material. Advances over the last decade have resulted in a doubling of ultimate tensile strength every three years, largely as a result of bundle densification and alignment. This presentation will demonstrate two new methods of CNT alignment for the enhancement of CNT fibre strength, electrical conductivity and thermal conductivity. Alternating electrical fields enable CNTs to stiffen, align and bundle during CNT self assembly. Post processing with aerogels via wet acid stretching increases the tensile strength of CNT fibers beyond the strength, conductivity and toughness of steel with holistic properties that are superior to any high-performance fiber. Larger questions remain regarding whether bulk materials can be produced at sufficient density for wide-scale applications. New techniques for measuring the rates of catalyst formation and kinetics of CNT growth will provide a means for studying the ultimate limitations of reaction density and reactor throughput. These techniques are being applied to study new CO2e net-sequestering carbon materials when produced from new sources of methane, such as gasified biomass and landfill gas. 

Biography: Adam Boies is Professor of Nanomaterials and Aerosol Engineering and is Head of the Energy Faculty Group at the Cambridge University Engineering Department. His research focuses on characterizing the evolution, dynamics and impacts of gas-phase nanoparticles with an emphasis on energy applications, nanomaterial structuring and morphology and particle sensing. Adam serves as director of the Advanced Carbon Application and Manufacturing network and is Partnership Director of the Aerosol Science Doctoral Training Centre. He is a Fellow of Trinity College and has over 100 publications and 14 patents. His group has valued technical innovation and transfer, founding Catalytic Instruments (2014), Echion Technologies (2017) and Atmose Ltd (2019). He is a co-founder member of the Aerosol Science Doctoral Training Centre, lead of the Cambridge Particle Meeting, coordinator of the Cambridge University Hard to Decarbonize Initiative and board member of the UK Aerosol Society, European Aerosol Conference and Chief Scientific Advisor to Q-Flo Technologies.

Host: Professor Sam Tawfick

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