In 2013, OCSiAl launched Graphetron 1.0, the world’s only industrial facility to synthesise SWCNTs. The company also launched TUBALL™, which contains more than 75% SWCNTs and can be used as a versatile additive for a range of diverse materials. The launch of TUBALL™, the first product of its kind, prompted the rapid creation of a new market for materials modified with nanotubes, otherwise known as nano-augmented materials.
The next stage was to develop technologies to introduce and uniformly disperse SWCNTs into materials’ matrices. OCSiAl now offers a number of ready-made solutions for many industries, in the form of masterbatches with added solvents selected for specific materials. These SWCNT-based additives have made the process of modifying materials much more cost-effective by enabling manufacturers to keep their existing production technology working at optimum capacity.
The results in terms of modifying materials’ properties and the simplicity of using masterbatches in technological processes have prompted a number of innovative companies to launch their own additives based on TUBALL™. Manufacturers need highly effective and affordable equipment to produce liquid suspensions on an industrial scale. However, the analogues available on the market today do not meet OCSiAl partners’ requirements for disperser effectiveness, quality of final product or production facility profitability. This was why OCSiAl took the next step and developed TUBBOX, an ultrasonic unit for producing finely dispersed liquid suspensions and that helps partners to lower the cost of and speed up the industrial production of masterbatches based on TUBALL™.
The TUBBOX ultrasonic unit is optimised to produce the following masterbatches based on TUBALL™ single wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs):
1. Suspensions for increasing the electrical conductivity of power sources: TUBALL™ BATT H2O and TUBALL™ BATT NMP, which contain 0.1–0.2% SWCNTs. These are used to increase the energy density, durability and capacity in lithium-ion, lead–acid, alkaline, lithium–manganese dioxide and lithium–fluorocarbon batteries, as well as in supercapacitors and fuel cells.
2. Water-based suspensions: TUBALL™ LATEX, an additive for increasing the strength and electrical conductivity of latex products, TUBALL™ COAT, an electroconductive additive for anti-static coatings, and TUBALL™ INK, for transparent conductive films.
3. Nanotube suspensions with TUBALL™ SWCNTs based on widely used industrial solvents featuring 0.01–0.1% SWCNT content. They improve the mechanical properties and the electrical and thermal conductivity of any material, which further expands the range of industrial applications of masterbatches based on TUBALL™.
TUBBOX: KEY FEATURES
|Unit size (length/width/height)||5700/4500/2000 mm|
|Power required||64 kW|
|Capacity (annual)||300 tonnes|
|Maximum power consumption||75 kW|
|Requirements for water and sanitation||none|
Facility manufacturers offer clients a mechanical or ultrasonic way method of dispersion. Both options, however, have significant disadvantages, which that impacts on the final product. Mechanical dispersion delivers good homogenizsation, but does not enable nanotubes bundles to be broken down into separate objects at the nanoscale. This can be successfully achieved by ultrasonic facilities, however but these in turn are largely ineffective in dispersing large agglomerates of randomly bonded nanotubes.OCSiAl partners have been unable to source finely dispersed suspensions because ofdue to the lack of high-quality, profitable cost-effective units on the market, and hence OCSiAl has created a the unique TUBBOX integrated unit, which uses both mechanical and ultrasonic dispersion in tandem. Furthermore, the pricing cost of the OCSiAl unit is significantly lower, than that of other field-specific analogues.
Once loaded into the TUBBOX tank, the material particles areis exposed to dispersedion by splitting the particles by means of the high velocity gradients and cavitation, which appears in a liquid due to the high speed of disc performance. Then operator sets the number of operating cycles, required for an ultrasonic dispersion. At this stage, all pores and micro-roughness’es, which appear after mechanical dispersion, are filled by the dispersed medium by the ultrasonic process. The particles are then split by shock waves, which originate in liquid when cavitation bubbles pop.
Theis integrated approach to disintegration used by TUBBOX, which combinesing mechanical and ultrasonic dispergatsion methods phase-by-phase, is more effective and cost-efficient when compared towith field-specific equivalent units.