This theme will investigate methods of achieving increased CNT production by developing modelling and characterization techniques to understand existing CNT formation processes and allow the shift to improved reactor designs. The primary objective of these projects is to deliver an increased throughput of three orders of magnitude in single-reactor mass throughput of CNT materials.
Project 1A: CNT Reactor Characterization will develop methods to understand the factors limiting scaling up production processes for CNTs. While the CNT reactor inputs and outputs are well studied, the internal physics and chemistry are not fully understood. In order to study catalyst and CNT formation, it is necessary to conduct in-situ reactor measurements via intrusive and non-intrusive techniques.
Project 1B: CNT reactor modelling will develop a comprehensive physical and chemical model for a standardized hot-wall reactor. Efforts will be focused on developing models in both continuum and molecular regimes. Initial development of continuum models will encapsulate the thermo-fluid dynamics, including coupled chemical kinetic decomposition relations and aerosol particle dynamics (nucleation, growth and agglomeration).
Project 1C: Plasma Catalysts Production will seek to develop a step-change in CNT synthesis rates and process control by using an inline atmospheric pressure thermal (Cambridge) and non-thermal non-equilibrium (Ulster) plasmas to generate particle catalysts. In order to boost the CNT production rate and leverage the advantages of the Windle process, it is imperative that the downstream CNT reactor is able to achieve interlinked CNTs that can be spun from the reactor. Therefore we propose to decouple catalyst production with an upstream plasma system which delivers engineered and tailored catalysts at high rate into the Windle-type CNT reactor.