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SINTEF/NTNU able to mass-produce super-material

Scientists at SINTEF Materials and Chemistry are among the first groups in the world have developed a process for large-scale production of carbon nanotubes.

SINTEF President Unni Steinsmo opened the high-temperature reactor that makes it possible to mass produce the extremely strong and superlight material, carbon nanotubes.
Photo: Svein Tønseth

Production of the strongest material in the world takes place in a high-temperature reactor designed in Trondheim, which was officially opened by SINTEF President Unni Steinsmo on June 22.

Steinsmo praised the SINTEF/NTNU scientists who have been developing their unique expertise in plasma technology and high-temperature chemistry for 30 years.

Carbon nanotubes are a completely new material with special properties, that is in high demand.The material has turned out to have unsuspected electrical and chemical properties in addition to its high strength and extremely low weight. This means that superstrong plastics, uncrushable boat hulls and superlight aircraft could become a reality.

At the moment, there is little or no international commercial production of carbon nanotubes. However, the n-Tech company at the Institute of Energy Technology produces a few grams a day by the arc discharge method. The Trondheim reactor has been designed and built for production on the kilogram scale. It is also based on arc discharge, but employs more advanced plasma technology.

The scientists believe that there will be a large market for nanotubes in the future, but only if costs can be brought down. This is what makes the mass production breakthrough a milestone.

The efforts of SINTEF and NTNU have received financial support from the Research Council of Norway, and SINTEF has applied for patents on its technology.



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Jon Arne Bakken, Department of Materials Technology at NTNU
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