Vol.9 No.3 2017
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Research paper : A super-growth method for single-walled carbon nanotube synthesis (K. Hata)−177−Synthesiology - English edition Vol.9 No.3 (2017) It was designed by integrating the technologies nurtured in the development of continuous synthesis technology and large-area synthesis technology. Other than the continuous synthesis furnace, the continuous sputtering device, wet catalyst coating device, CNT harvesting device, substrate washing device, and others were added. The mass production process developed in the “Carbon Nanotube Capacitor Development Project” was realized, though at a small scale, and this enabled manufacture of super-growth single-walled CNTs at production volume of 100 gram/hour.The manufactured super-growth single-walled CNTs were supplied to a wide range of domestic companies as sample supplies from AIST. Over 200 agreements have been signed to the present.From FY 2013, the pilot plant was loaned to Zeon, and the super-growth single-walled CNTs were sold by Zeon utilizing the Result Diffusion Project. We approached the B2B format one step at a time.Many prospective uses were developed from the super-growth single-walled CNTs that were supplied throughout Japan from the pilot plant, and this spurred actual realization. In the Technology Research Association for Single Wall Carbon Nanotubes (TASC), the technologies to utilize the super-growth single-walled CNTs were developed one after the other, including dispersion, coating, evaluation, forming, and compositing. This led to the development of various parts with excellent properties such as CNT rubber composite material with high thermal resistance, CNT carbon ber rubber composite material with high heat conductivity, and CNT copper composite material that can pass 100 times the electric current while possessing the same electro-conductivity as copper,[15] and thus the development by companies was accelerated.The market demand for super-growth single-walled CNTs, development of peripheral technologies such as dispersion and composition, and development of marketable application moved Zeon Corporation to start operation of a commercial plant in 2014. The ceremony for the start of the plant construction was held in Tokuyama in November 2015. I was able to snap a photograph in front of the plant with Dr. Sumio Iijima (former Director, Nanotube Research Center, AIST), Dr. Yumura, Mr. Arakawa, Dr. Mitsugu Ueshima (Zeon), and Dr. Norimitsu Murayama (Director, Department of Materials and Chemistry, AIST) (Fig. 15), and this was when I felt we reached a milestone. Plant construction and the commercial production of super-growth single-walled CNTs are only the starting line in the business world. To grow this business, there are mountains of difficulties and issues that must be overcome. However, since the super-growth single-walled CNTs have overwhelming superiority in purity, length, and specific surface area compared to other CNTs, I believe it will become a major business. Finally, I believe that it is possible to see the prospect of CNTs in the future by looking at the periodic table of elements. Carbon is the sixth element in the periodic table. The first and second elements, hydrogen and helium, are gas, third element, lithium, is water prohibitive, and fourth, beryllium, is highly toxic. Carbon is the topmost element of the periodic table that can be used safely by humankind in a solid state. This means that carbon has a small nucleus and therefore is the lightest and has the strongest shared bond. CNTs that combine carbon in ideal structures are materials that can bring out the performance of carbon to the maximum. The periodic table tells us that we cannot create any material that is stronger or lighter than CNTs on the earth. If CNTs are fully commercialized, I believe that they will continue to be used as long as human society exists.CNTs that were found in Japan will grow into a CNT industry that originated in Japan. They will be used in all corners of society making it a place where “carbon nanotubes are here, there, and everywhere,” and will benefit human society. My goal is to create such a future.6 AcknowledgementsI am sincerely thankful to Sumio Iijima, Don Futaba, Shunsuke Sakurai, Satoshi Yasuda, Akiyoshi Shibuya, Hirokazu Takai, Mitsugu Ueshima, Kohei Arakawa, Mitsuhito Hiroda, and Motoo Yumura with whom we advanced this research.This paper is based on the results obtained in the “Carbon Nanotube Capacitor Development Project,” a program of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).Fig. 15 Photograph in front of the carbon nanotube manufacturing plant (Tokuyama Plant, Zeon Corporation)

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