Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Lithium-Ion Batteries

Rice University Cooks Up Nanotube Stew

Rice University researchers develop a new method for bulk processing carbon nanotubes.

Researchers at Rice University have announced the discovery of a new breakthrough method for producing carbon nanotubes in bulk fluids.  Rice’s new nanotube “stew” could spur the inexpensive mass production of carbon nanotube-based products, much like the plastics industry employed bulk loads of melted polymers as a cheap base for making everything from medical equipment to polyester shirts to plastic bags, and countless other things in between.


Rice’s nanotube research was sponsored in party by U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy.  Aside from their military application, carbon nanotubes have a practically unlimited potential for sustainable civilian products because of their strength, light weight, and electrical conductivity among other properties. Lightweight nanomaterials could boost the gas mileage in cars and airplanes, make thinner and more flexible solar cells, increase the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries (in combination with another new high tech material, graphene), and be used in artificial photosynthesis to generate hydrogen fuel.

Rice University and the Nanotube Stew

Rice’s breakthrough is based on conventional bulk fluid industry processes, methodically adapted over a nine-year period.  In 2003, Rice researchers discovered that pure nanotubes can be dissolved in a strong acidic solvent to form liquid crystals that line up like a package of spaghetti, which can be spun into fibers.  Then followed years of examining the behavior of nanotubes in different acids, until the team finally settled on chlorsulfonic acid as the key.

The Next Step for Nanotube Production

By discovering a commercially viable fluid-based production method, Rice has brought the world one step closer to a carbon nanotube future that could be even more pervasive (and hopefully more sustainable) than plastic.  Another big step in that direction still awaits a solution, and that is a bulk process for manufacturing a single kind of nanotube per batch, rather than a “stew” of different types.

Image: Velo Steve on

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Former Tesla Battery Expert Leading Lyten Into New Lithium-Sulfur Battery Era — Podcast:

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
If you like what we do and want to support us, please chip in a bit monthly via PayPal or Patreon to help our team do what we do! Thank you!
Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Spoutible.


You May Also Like


OEMs that try to roll bespoke engineered solutions, niche chemistries, or custom designed battery assemblies are making the wrong strategic decisions.


Nuclear for commercial ships is so obviously flawed from a business perspective that I didn't even bother to include it in my quadrant chart...


The future of all ground transportation and an awful lot of aviation and marine shipping being electric, low-carbon, quieter, and a lot less smelly...

Climate Change

Don't blame ChatGPT for some humans being venal con artists or deluded fabulists, and don't blame it for other people buying into the nonsense.

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.