Development of a packed bed reactor for carbon nanotube synthesis

Theme: Aerosol Technology

Start date: Cohort 1: 2019

Supervisors: Dr Adam Boies (Cambridge)


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are one of the most attractive materials of the future that can be used in a range of applications from structural buildingto use in superconductors. Commonly used materials such as copper, aluminium and steel are outperformed by CNTmechanical, electrical and thermal properties on the nanoscale relative to their density. However,there are problems and issues that come from manufacturing nanomaterials on an industrial scale. The properties that are found on the nanoscale do not translate to the macro scale and their synthesis is very energy intensive. Further, there are issues surrounding current synthesis techniques which are used in academia and on small laboratory scales in industry. Floating catalyst chemical vapour deposition (FCCVD) is one of the most promising routes for industrial scaleup however, there are issues concerning the reactor density and the carbon conversion. Both require an improvement in order for the process to become feasible.

This proposal will address the issue of understanding the concentration of all species at which aerogel forms. The methods to analyse the distribution of nanoparticles within the reactor both axially and radially will be performed via aerosol collection techniques. Once the fundamental reaction kinetics and concentrations of the chemically relevant species are both known and understood, the reaction will be put into a higher reaction density reactor. The data from this study will be used for modelling aerosol dynamics within the reactor and coupled with computational fluid dynamics model.

Furtherthis proposal will outline the design and creation of a pseudo packed bed reactor in which the catalyst precursors are delivered to the point at which the carbon has broken down into subsequent radicals. The reactor design and build including all materials usedwill focus closely on providing a solution to the mass production of high quality carbon nanotubes.