A group of researchers from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) have successfully created a new method for producing carbon nanotubes, the most innovative material of the 21st century with a 1001 uses for the production of industrial and automotive end products.
The research known as the Continuous Production Method of Carbon Nanotubes Using Rotation Reactor is the first ever created in Southeast Asia, has a huge impact on the world’s research and economy.
Carbon nanotubes are widely used in the production of end products such as memory chips, rechargeable batteries, tennis rackets, badminton rackets, bicycles, composite to manufacture cars, airplanes and so forth.
The research team leader, Prof. Dr. Abdul Rahman Mohamed said carbon nanotube is a type of carbon that has unique characteristics and was discovered by scientists around 1991 through the progress achieved in nanotechnology.
He said carbon nanotube is able to improve the quality of manufactured products due to its mechanical strength, its light but solid structure, its ideal electronic structure and so forth. Hence, there is a very high demand for this versatile product.
“Even though this product is very valuable, it is not produced in a large scale due to its high production cost. Furthermore, there is an imbalance in the demand-market chain which causes the market price to remain high".
“According to record, the market price for this material can be as high as USD100 to USD700 for each gram, depending on its purity. Among the countries that produce this product are Japan, China, United States, Korea and so forth,'' he said.
Abdul Rahman, an expert in nanotechnology research and a lecturer in the USM School of Chemical Engineering, said the developed method also takes into account the weaknesses of existing methods which are seen to be less effective and costly.
“In this study, a new rotation of the reactor system is designed to enable the continuous production of carbon nanotubes without compromising its quality and authenticity".
“This system is also capable of producing up to 1000 grams of carbon nanotubes a day,'' he said.
He added that the developed system is also environmentally friendly as it operates at atmospheric conditions, cost effective and does not require a large space to operate the reactor.