In situ purification in large-scale production of single-walled carbon nanotubes by induction thermal plasma
SubjectOxydation thermique sélective
Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) are new forms of carbon nanostructure that have exhibited important physical and chemical properties with a wide range of future applications including microelectronic devices, nanoscale transistors, catalyst supports, biosensors, reinforcement materials, medical chemistry, etc. Up to now, many versatile methods have been used for SWNCT synthesis. These methods can produce SWCNT besides many by-products such as amorphous carbon, fullerenes, nanocrystalline graphite and multi-walled carbon nanotubes. For the exploration of the physical properties of SWNCT and to investigate the possibilities of chemical functionalization it is advantageous to work with a material that is as pure as possible. The work presented here is focused on in situ purification of SWCNT soot synthesized by a large-scale (i.e., production rate of ~100 g h[superscript -1]) induction thermal plasma process. The main objectives of this research are: 1) to get rid of amorphous carbon impurities from SWCNT soot produced in the induction thermal plasma system, 2) to study the effect of oxidizing gas flow rate (i.e. oxygen) and temperature on the purification process. The methodology used in this experimental design is based on gas-phase thermal oxidation of synthesized SWCNT soot. The experimental apparatus can be divided in to two parts as follows: 1) synthesis system which consists of a flow type reactor equipped with a high frequency plasma torch operated at 3 MHz along with quenching and filtration systems 2) purification system which consists of an oven and a gas heater used to control the temperature of oxidizing gases, and a filtration system where thermal oxidation of the synthesized soot takes place. SWCNT soot was synthesized by an induction thermal plasma process using a mixture of carbon black (Raven 860 ultra) as a carbon source and nickel (Ni), cobalt (Co) and yttrium oxide (Y[subscript 2]O[subscript 3]) as catalysts. A series of preliminary experimental tests was conducted to evaluate the process ability to purify SWCNT soot in situ using a gas-phase thermal oxidation process. In these tests, temperature measurements along the filtration system were carried out during synthesis and purification processes. Two types of oxidizing gases (i.e., air and oxygen) were injected into the filtration system and the purified samples were characterized by different powerful techniques such as high resolution scanning electron microscopy (HRSEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA) and Raman spectroscopy. The results indicated that in situ removal of amorphous carbon from SWCNT soot synthesized by induction thermal plasma can be successfully achieved (a purity of more than 60 wt% of SWCNTs was achieved). Moreover thermal oxidation of the soot causes a narrower distribution of tube diameters in the purified sample. Overall, the findings of this study are relevant to the purification process technology of SWCNTs and future research is proposed to fully understand the reaction mechanism of SWCNT soot by oxygen. Based in the results of this work, additional work using a modification of the filtration system (i.e., collection chamber and filter tubes) should be performed in order to get rid of other carbonaceous impurities. Different gases can be also introduced in to the filtration system to improved the purification process and extend it for removal of catalysts particles. Our findings reveal that the present synthesis system has a capability for functionalization of tubes in situ. Therefore according to the type of functional groups which are desired to be attached to the tubes, proper gases can be injected into the filtration system.
- Génie – Mémoires