As part of the innovation alliance Inno.CNT, innovative solutions for the use of carbon nanotubes in market relevant applications were sought. In addition to the numerous application projects with a high degree of practical relevance, the research alliance also included fundamental projects for the production, modification and processing of the Nanotubes, which benefited all application projects as so-called "cross-sectional projects", as well as two projects on the health and application safety of the CNTs. You can find an overview of all projects in this flyer (only available in German).
Against this background, various projects were started in a large consortium of research and development partners in close cooperation with the aim of identifying applications for the still new class of materials and developing corresponding products. In addition to the three cross-sectional technology projects for the production, modification and dispersion of carbon nanotubes, two projects on the topics of health, safety and quality as well as 22 application projects in the four overarching areas of electronics, energy & environment, mobility and lightweight construction were processed. The solutions developed here have great market potential and range from improved energy sources such as fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries to ultra-light fiber composite materials, for example for wind turbines, to new types of catalysts. As part of the innovation alliance Inno.CNT, this offered the opportunity to combine basic results from fundamental research on CNTs with practical questions from industry for profitable applications. In this way, the initiative should use the prerequisites for rapid commercial use of the still young CNT material technology.
The cross-sectional technologies lay the technological foundations for the successful use of CNTs.
The cornerstones of the Innovation Alliance CNT are the cross-sectional technologies, which are being addressed in three overarching projects. Their key task is to create the technological basis for the application developments and to make carbon nanotubes and intermediate products containing carbon nanotubes available in adequate quantities, suitably modifications, and in the right quality.
A reliable and economical energy supply and the efficient use of resources represent the backbone of any modern industrial society. In view of the limited nature of energy resources such as coal, oil and natural gas and the rising energy demand of emerging national economies there is an urgent need for action to secure future energy supply around the world. In addition, climate change is forcing a restructuring of our energy supply, primarily for the further emission reduction of climate-damaging greenhouse gases such as CO2. Limited resources must be used as conservatively as possible with more efficient processes such as optimized catalysis or improved material separation.
The seven projects in the Energy and Environment category focus on these tasks. Their goal is to improve existing applications with promising new developments in catalysis and material separation as well as energy conversion, storage, and optimized use and to generate entirely new applications in this field.
This includes innovations in the area of catalyst, fuel cell and battery technology, CNTbased inks for solar cell development as well as membranes for energy-efficient seawater desalination and gas separation.
Modern life would be inconceivable without mobility, but traffic and transport systems must be consistently adapted to the changing requirements of humans and markets. Increasingly, the focus of modern mobility is on requirements for environmentally compatible approaches with a high level of safety.
Materials technology plays a vital role in the development of energy-efficient concepts. High-strength synthetic materials and composite materials will make a lasting contribution to low material weight, which translates into energy savings. CNT-based materials have great potential to improve the energy balance of the mobility and transport sector. CNT-reinforced plastics and metals are especially lightweight, while offering high levels of stability and strength. These properties also are ideally suited to meet the extreme material requirements of the aviation and space industry.
As a result, the Inno.CNT projects concentrate on the development of innovative composite materials for aircraft and automotive construction, materials for the space industry, and CNT-modified coatings, which provide lightning protection for airplanes.
Conventional design materials currently used in aeronautical applications, the automotive industry, and machinery increasingly are reaching the limits of passive structures. Lightweight construction concepts on the basis of CNT offer enormous potential, including for use with extraordinary structural stresses. As high-strength, ultra-light materials used for lower-weight designs of cars and aircrafts, they make an important contribution to higher energy and resource efficiency and save substantial amounts of fuel.
However, lightweight construction also benefits other industries and applications. CNT-based particle foams offer improved traffic security, while specialty concrete offers additional design options and improved earthquake protection.
The five projects associated with the area of lightweight construction pursue the goal of developing lightweight plastic and composite materials, ultra high-strength concrete, and mechanically high-resilient metals.
The success of nearly all sectors of the industry today is closely associated with electronic systems, without which many applications would not even be feasible. At the same time, the complexity of these systems has increased tremendously over the past years. Innovative solutions that contribute to the control of demanding electronic applications and additionally offer preservation of natural resources are of eminent significance for the entire economy.
The development of increasingly more powerful electronic components, which at the same time is subject to the need for more cost-effective and application-specific production, will benefit from the opportunities offered by nanotechnology. Innovations on the basis of CNT with a high level of functional integration that offer both outstanding electrical conductivity and extraordinary mechanical properties are particularly promising. They range from displays to X-ray and microwave generators, photovoltaic applications, and high-resolution electron beam instruments.
The two comprehensive projects CarboSafe and CarboLifeCycle concentrate on questions that address the potential health effects and environmental impact during production, processing, use, and recycling of products that contain CNT. The project results will consist of methods and measures to guarantee the safety of CNT throughout their lifecycle.
Detailed results on the individual projects and project results of the innovation alliance Inno.CNT can be looked up at the TIB - Leibniz Information Center for Technology and Natural Sciences and the University Library in Hanover.