Carbon nanotube coatings for the performance enhancement of carbon fibre reinforcements, Lithium-ion batteries, fuel cell electrode and gas diffusion layer materials. Initial trial results suggest that the high surface area and high strength of the adhered carbon nanotubes allows for improved load transfer to the surrounding matrix in carbon composite materials. The addition of carbon nanotubes to electrode materials creates an interface with both high surface area and high conductivity.
For enzyme based electrochemical systems this affords the possibility of an optimal bio-scaffold. In DMFC and Hydrogen fuel cells the enhanced materials show improved current collection characteristics, mass transport and wetting resistance.
For further reading see recent work by Prof Kannan at ASU: Development of carbon nanotubes based gas diffusion layers by in situ chemical vapor deposition process for proton exchange membrane fuel cells
"The GDLs with in situ growth of micro-porous layers containing carbon nanotubes (CNTs) without any hydrophobic agent showed significant improvement in mechanical robustness as well as fuel cell performance at elevated temperature at lower RH conditions."
Lithium Ion Battery applications: A recent paper (Jun Chen et al. Energy Environ. Sci., 2009, 2, 393 - 396, DOI: 10.1039/b816135f) decribing how "the direct deposition of large quantities of highly porous carbon nanotube networks onto a carbon fibre paper support; subsequently utilised as the anode in a Li-ion battery application showing improved long-term performance and chemical stability with a significant fully reversible capacity of 546 mAh g-1." can be seen here
Figure 1: Carbon nanotube coating on a PAN derived gas diffusion layer (carbon fibre paper).
Carbon nanotube coatings are currently available for several types of carbon support. e.g. Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) derived carbon fibre paper or Activated carbon cloth. For gas diffusion layer applications the material can be rendered hydrophobic, to prevent flooding of the cell, with little or no loss of conductivity. Platinisation is also available. Further bio-compatible coatings are also available on request.
Figure 2: Carbon nanotube coated and uncoated PAN derived gas diffusion layers.
Carbon nanotube coatings can be applied to large carbon substrates (flat sheets up to 0.9m x 0.9m, flexible sheets can be larger). Current capacity for carbon nanotube coatings around 10,000sqm/month. Minimum order 1sqm or 10 A4 size sheets.
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