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Nanotube Surveys

First in the Disruptive Technology Series

By Rocky Rawstern, Editor Nanotechnology Now

Courtesy Prof. Vincent H. Crespi

The past few years has seen a substantial increase in the number of companies producing commercial quantities of nanotubes, and the speculative forecasting regarding their possible uses.

A moderate level of optimism, coupled with informed speculation, suggests that nanotubes are one of many nanoscale technologies that are set to revolutionize a significant portion of today's industries, help reduce the cost of consumer products, increase our standard of living world-wide, increase our years of optimal health and vitality, and extend our reach into space.

Last Updated: Monday, 20-Apr-2015 19:51:36 PDT

Go straight to: Survey1 | Survey2 | Survey3 (NEW)

For additional information, see our Nanotube & Buckyball page, Physical Properties of Carbon Nanotubes.

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Questions asked of companies that currently make commercial quantities of nanotubes.

Regarding nanotubes:

1. By weight, how much does your company produce today?
2. Per gram, what is the cost? (Costs vary due to type and amount purchased)
3. What type or types of nanotubes do you produce?
   (The TYPE links go to a description page, which will help to explain the cost differences, and is mostly attributed to "functionalized" vs. unprocessed varities)

Carbolex ~35 g/day [up to 250g/wk] $60-100 SWNT
CNI --- $750-900 SWNT & Fluorinated SWNT (b)
CNRI Several hundred kgs to several tons / yr A few hundred US dollars per kilogram MWNT
Catalytic Materials 1.2 kg/day $35-60 MWNT
ec systems See #4 $30-60 MWNT (e)
Hyperion ~5 kg/day [Tons/yr.] (a) MWNT
MER --- $7-80 SWNT, MWNT
Nanocarblab 3 g/day --- SWNT (b)
Nanocyl 10 kg/day (end 2004) $6-485 MWNT (2 grades), DWNT, SWNT (b)
NanoLab 20-100 g/day $200-400 MWNT, SWNT, Bamboo
NanoLedge 120 g/day $64-85 (c) SWNT
Nanoamor 30 - 50 kg/day $3-225 SWNT, MWNT (d)
Nanothinx 100 g/day $11-40 (MWNTs)
$160-220 (SWNTs)
SWNTs (as-prepared & purified)
MWNTs (d)
Rosseter 100-200 g/day $20-25 MWNT, TripleWNT
Shenzhen Nanotech 10s of kg's MWNTs and 100s of g's SWNTs / day Confidential SWNT & MWNT
SWeNT™ competitive amount $350 as-produced, $650 Various types of SWNT (b)

[ ]'s indicate that we have converted their given figure to a "per day" amount. Their stated amount is within the [ ]'s.
(a) they do not sell raw CNT's, only composites that incorporate the CNT's they produce.
(b) purified or modified (cut and/or functionalized) to meet customer requirements.
(c) "With our single-wall synthesis program," (Nanoledge General Manager Karl) Gedda said, "we hope to reach a market price of less than $100 per kilogram in 2005." See Nanoledge builds on nanotube knowledge
(d) various purity grades and diameters (OD and ID)
(e) "Next year, contingent on financing, will have higher temp equipment and process for SWNT."

4. By the end of the year (2003), what is your projected output?

Carbolex ---
CNI ---
CNRI 40 to 120 tons/yr
Catalytic Materials 5 kg/day
ec systems 3kg/month
Hyperion N/A
MER ---
Nanocarblab ---
Nanocyl 5 kg/day [ ~2.43 tons / yr ]
NanoLab 1kg/day
NanoLedge 1 kg/wk
Nanoamor MWNT: 10-15 tons/yr, SWNT: 600-1,000 kg/yr
Nanothinx 1 kg/week (end of 2005)
Rosseter ---
Shenzhen Nanotech 10 tons/yr
SWeNT™ Expects to complete construction of its pilot plant, which will result in an order-of-magnitude increase

5. Who are your main clients, and what are they using your nanotubes for?

Carbolex Researchers in academia and industry
CNI Close to 300 companies and university laboratories around the world
CNRI Plastics and electronics manufacturers
Catalytic Materials Materials and Battery companies, Catalyst and Automobile manufacturers
ec systems Industrial research labs- catalysis, sensors, field emissions
Hyperion Automotive and Electronics Industry
MER ---
Nanocarblab Major academic institutions and universities in the Russian Federation. For laboratory research and industrial applications.
Nanocyl University labs and research institutes (gov. and non gov.) , and Corporates R&D departments. Mainly for research and evaluation purpose, and some developmental stage. Applications include: FED, polymer composites and additives.
NanoLab ---
NanoLedge Aerospace, Materials and Chemical Companies
Nanoamor Academic research & industrial application; Flat Panel Display, Conductive Polymers, Reinforcement; Dispersion; Nanotube Composites
Nanothinx Researchers in academia and industrial R&D laboratories (Europe, USA).
Applications: polymer nanocomposites, additives, electronics, energy
Rosseter Chemical, electronics, aircraft, and automotive industries, and defense
Shenzhen Nanotech Companies that use CNTs for Multi-functional composites; Electrode material of supercapacitors; Electro-conductive agent material in lithium ion batteries; Field emission material
SWeNT™ Several working relationships in a variety of industries, including Fortune 500 companies. The applications are diverse, though the company's main focus is in Flat Panel Display materials and Structural and Conducting Composites.

6. By what method or methods?

See Synthesis Methods for descriptions of various methods.

Carbolex ---
CNI Modified gas phase process
CNRI Chemical Vapor Deposition
Catalytic Materials Low temperature metal catalyzed decomposition of carbon-containing gases at atmospheric pressure
ec systems Catalysed CVD
Hyperion Chemical Vapor Phase
ILJIN Chemical Vapor Deposition & Arc Discharge
MER Arc Discharge
Nanocarblab Arc Discharge
Nanocyl Chemical Vapor Deposition (c)
NanoLab Chemical Vapor Deposition
NanoLedge Arc Discharge
Nanoamor Chemical Vapor Deposition
Nanothinx Catalytic Chemical Vapor Deposition (CCVD)
Rosseter Controlled Liquid Pyrolysis
Shenzhen Nanotech CVD
SWeNT™ Proprietary catalytic method

(c) and a proprietary method for cutting and functionalizing

7. What industries and/or products do you see nanotubes having the most impact upon, in:

  1 - 4 years?

Carbolex ---
CNI Field emission, conductive plastics, energy storage, conductive adhesives and connectors, molecular electronics, thermal materials, structural composites, fibers and fabrics, catalyst supports, biomedical applications, and others. See Buckytube Properties and Uses
CNRI Advanced composites
Catalytic Materials Conductive polymers, catalysts & support media, rechargeable batteries, separation materials
ec systems Flat panel displays
Hyperion ---
MER ---
Nanocarblab ---
Nanocyl FED and polymers additives
NanoLab Composites
NanoLedge Conductive and multifunctionnal polymers mainly for EMI shielding and electrostatic dissipation
Nanoamor Polymer additives, catalysts, field emitters, nanotube composites, sensors, reinforcements
Nanothinx Conductive and reinforced polymer nanocomposites, flat panel displays, field emission devices, adhesives, catalyst supports, automotive industry (coatings, accessories), batteries.
Rosseter See: "Some applications of Carbon Nanotubes"
Shenzhen Nanotech Coatings, plastics, batteries, FEDs, etc.
SWeNT™ Flat panel displays, composites, fuel cells, catalytic applications

  5 - 10 years?

Carbolex ---
CNI ---
CNRI Electronics, displays, semiconductors, medical, aerospace
Catalytic Materials All of the above plus PEM Fuel Cells and various Electronic applications
ec systems Displays, sensors, composites
Hyperion Nanotube based catalysts
MER ---
Nanocarblab ---
Nanocyl Polymer additives, structural / non-structural composites, electronics, energy, and some unexpected applications
NanoLab Electronics
NanoLedge Reinforcement materials and materials for fuel cells stacks
Nanoamor Electromagnetic-wave absorption and shielding, energy storage and conversion, STM/AFM/EFM tips, drug delivery, supercapacitors
Nanothinx All the above plus energy (hydrogen storage, fuel cells), biomedicine (biosensors, drug delivery), microelectronics, gas separations, ceramic nanocomposites.
Rosseter ---
Shenzhen Nanotech Hydrogen storing materials, Electronic components, etc.
SWeNT™ Mainstream composites, integrated electronics, continuous pure nanotube fibers, etc

Here are the companies that were asked to participate:

(1) Have not answered the survey yet. Data is from their website.

Carbolex Lexington, Kentucky, USA (1) "CarboLex was conceived in the Advanced Science and Technology Commercialization Center at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Situated on campus between the University's Robotics, Engineering, and Computer Services Buildings, ASTeCC is composed of both university research faculty and scientists from for-profit, high-technology corporations. CarboLex is now a self-sufficient, off-campus company providing carbon nanotubes to clients worldwide."


Carbon Nanotechnologies [CNI] Houston, Texas, USA (1) "CNI is the preeminent world producer of single-wall carbon nanotubes. The company has developed continuous processes for producing Buckytubes, based on technology licensed exclusively from Rice University. CNI is actively working with close to 300 companies and university laboratories around the world to turn the potential of carbon nanotechnology into reality."

Carbon Nanotechnologies

Carbon Nanotech Research Institute [CNRI] Tokyo, Japan. A subsidiary of Mitsui & Co. "Our company is engaged in the R&D of industrial commercialization technologies for Fullerene tubes and carbon nanotubes that can be applied in next-generation semiconductors, fuel cells and AIDS medication. Our aim is to commercially produce metal-Fullerene and carbon nanotubes with single-digit nanometer dimensions by utilizing basic technologies that have been established by our partner universities."

Carbon Nanotech Research Institute

Catalytic Materials LLC "Catalytic Materials LLC was incorporated in 1995. Leaders on the architecture and design of carbon nanostructured materials including graphite nanofibers and carbon nanotubes."

Catalytic Materials LLC

ec systems "ec systems technology allows us to offer highly uniform preparations of carbon nanostructures at very low prices. We supply catalysts for nanotube preparation, and bulk nanotubes for applications research. Further we are able to prepare custom electrodes utilizing nanocarbon structures."


Hyperion Catalysis International Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA "The world leader in carbon nanotube development and commercialization. Founded in 1982 for the purpose of developing novel forms and morphologies of carbon for advanced materials and systems. Hyperion Catalysis' flagship technology is a conductive, vapor grown multi-walled carbon tube. These tubes are known commercially as FIBRIL™ nanotubes. Since the original discovery of carbon nanotubes in 1983, Hyperion Catalysis has devoted substantial resources to improving the technology of their manufacture and application."

Hyperion Catalysis

ILJIN Nanotech Seoul, Korea. (1) "As the World Leader in developing new material, Iljin Nanotech Co., Ltd. has succeeded in starting a new enterprise with Carbon Nanotube material in close cooperation with Korean and foreign researchers, in order to lead the trend of the times."

ILJIN Nanotech

Materials and Electrochemical Research Corp [MER] Tucson, Arizona, USA (1) "Materials and Electrochemical Research Corporation is devoted to high-technology materials and electrochemical research with emphasis on advanced composites, powders, coatings and fullerenes as well as energy conversion systems such as batteries, fuel cells and gas storage. MER is also committed to earning every customer's complete satisfaction by providing the best quality, prices, and after sales service."

Materials and Electrochemical Research Corp

Nanocarblab Moscow, Russian Federation. (1) "Founded in 2001, NanoCarbLab (NCL) is a nanotechnology division of MedChemLabs Inc.(MCL). Our main purpose is supplying carbon nanotubes, with the highest grades of purity, and developing methods of bulk production. We collaborate with major academic institutions and universities in the Russian Federation. We produce raw and purified (40% - 90%) high quality SWNT's, for laboratory research and industrial applications."


Nanocyl Namur, Belguim. "A nanotech company involved in the production, modification and commercialisation of carbon nanotubes. Nanocyl is exploiting and valorising new discoveries and a strong portfolio of intellectual property developed by Prof. Janos B. Nagy's team at the University of Namur in the field of Carbon Nanotubes. Nanocyl is one of the first companies active in this field which has the potential of producing commercial quantities of material."


NanoLab Brighton, Massachusetts, USA. "NanoLab was founded in January 2000. The company is headquartered in Brighton, Massachusetts, and operates as a manufacturer of carbon nanotubes and developer of nanoscale devices. NanoLab offers a wide variety of aligned nanotube arrays and carbon nanotube powders. We're also working to develop more products in fields of optical devices and field emissions."


NanoLedge Clapiers, France. "Nanoledge designs and produces innovative, multifunctionnal and high performance materials, taking advantage of unique carbon nanotubes properties. Nanoledge's main activity is the development and industrialization of its carbon nanotubes based fiber. This fiber is indeed the only one allowing a ratio of carbon nanotubes higher than 50%. A range of specific fibers is currently designed for 4 main applications : conductive fibers, reinforcement fibers, actuation devices and carbon nanotubes based materials for fuel cells."


Nanostructured & Amorphous Materials Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA. "Nanostructured & Amorphous Materials, Inc., founded in 2001, is a high-technology company involved in the research, processing, and marketing of nanostructured and amorphous materials."

Nanostructured & Amorphous Materials, Inc.

Nanothinx Rio-Patras, Greece. "Nanothinx (NTX) is a spin-off enterprise located in Rio-Patras, Greece, and founded by Professor Stratis V. Sotirchos. The activities of Nanothinx mainly lie on the development of methods for the large-scale, high-yield and low-cost production of carbon nanotubes (CNT), using novel nanostructured catalysts on suitable supports. The proprietary methods of nanotubes production used by NTX are based on the catalytic chemical vapor deposition of carbon (CCVD or CVD) from hydrocarbon feeds using metallic catalysts on suitable supports."


Rosseter Holdings Limited Limassol, Cyprus. "Rosseter Holdings Limited is a company that specialises in large-scale production of Carbon Nanotubes and related materials. Research and Development Activities are focused on methods and innovative processes of production as well as the development of the product for use in certain applications like electron emission, hydrogen absorption etc."

Rosseter Holdings

Shenzhen Nanotech Port Co Shenzhen Nanotech Port Co., Ltd. (NTP) is based on nanotechnology from the Chinese Academy of Science. NTP principally develops the manufacturing of carbon nanotubes and applied nanotechnology.

Shenzhen Nanotech Port Co

SouthWest NanoTechnologies Inc. [SWeNT™] Norman, Oklahoma, USA "SouthWest NanoTechnologies, Inc. is an independent privately held specialty chemical manufacturer. The Company produces customized Single Wall Carbon Nanotubes for high-volume specialty applications. This disruptive technology competes favorably in high-yield markets, including flat panel displays, structural & conductive composites, catalysis, and fuel cell materials. SWeNT is a spinoff of the University of Oklahoma and ConocoPhillips. The ConocoPhillips investment allowed SWeNT to begin construction of a pilot plant to manufacture single-wall carbon nanotubes, at a cost low enough to accelerate their commercialization in several specialty applications."

SouthWest NanoTechnologies Inc. SWeNT™

To the best of our knowledge, these are the only companies currently making commercial quantities of nanotubes. If you know of another, please us.

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These questions were asked of those individuals who have a working scientific knowledge of nanotubes and/or the way they are (and will be) used.

This first response is from Mike Moradi, VP, Marketing & Sales SouthWest NanoTechnologies Inc.

Regarding Nanotubes:

1. How does driving down the cost of creating CNTs effect their cost to the end-user?

Because the margins are favorable (even in the specialty chemicals industry), nanotubes are creating lots of interest, and hence, competition. In our opinion, the key metric that will differentiate companies in the long-term is scalability. The ability to build capacity, and do so profitably, will separate the winners from the also-rans.

2. In terms of yearly production, approximately how much is being created world-wide now?

For SWNTs, I would estimate 10-20 Lbs per day. Multiwall nanotubes are much more readily available, since they are easier to manufacture. We expect both products to secure profitable niches, based on their respective cost/performance ratios.

3. And how much do you think will be produced over the course of the next 2 - 3 years? Next 5 - 10 years?

For the forseeable future, we expect the worldwide capacity for both SWNTs and MWNTs to grow by an order of magnitude every couple of years. It may be another Moore's Law.

4. Where are CNTs being used today? For instance, of the world-wide production, what % is being used for R&D, and how much goes towards actual consumer products?

The first CNT-based flat panel display is expected to be on the market by the end of 2003. Several specialty applications are beginning to hit the market as well, which is where SWeNT, Inc. fits into the picture.

5. In terms of consumer products, can you contrast today's uses with those 10 years from now?

Today, very few applications can afford to use nanotubes profitably. Ten years from now, nanotubes will be cheap enough to use in more mundane applications, and we expect them to be literally everywhere.

6. In terms of disruptive factors, where would you place mature nanotube technology?

One could say with reasonable certainty that we live in the Plastics Age. When nanotube technology matures, it will single-handedly turn several industries on thier heads, possibly creating the Nanotube Age. It is the strongest material known to man. It conducts heat better than diamond, and happens to conduct electricity better than copper. It just might dwarf a few hundred years' worth of advances in materials science.

7. What are the major factors hindering the mass production of nanotubes? [in the range of mega tons / year]

Two things have to happen before nanotubes are ubiquitous: (1) The ability to mass produce starndardized nanotubes, at a cost low enough to use, and (2) Radical advances in engineering and design for end-users to take advantage of their miraculous properties. These are both happening today, in labs worldwide.

8. How close are we to solving or working around those factors?

I'd say that the nanotube industry is already there, for the earliest of applications. This technology has truly captured the imagination of the R&D community, all over the globe. It's an exciting time to be involved.

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These questions were asked of companies who produce CNT's.

This response is from Olivier Decroly, Sales & Applications Manager Nanocyl S.A.

Regarding Carbon Nanotubes (CNT's):

1. How have manufacturing methods changed in the past year?

We are evolving from batch to continuous synthesis technology. We have also more control of the CNTs properties in order to meet our customers' specifications. This requires a more flexible manufacturing process.

2. How has production volume changed in the past year?

Our production volume is constantly progressing due to the increasing demand for our products and advances in product development.

3. What are some of the most promising (or likely) applications in next five years?

Materials composites (broad definition including conductive compounds and high-strength fibers) and field-emission devices.

4. By the end of 2004, what is your daily output target (by type)?

10 kg/day for Thin MW nanotubes
1 kg/day for Double-wall nanotubes

5. How are you working through the (potential) toxicological and safety issues?

We have been participating in various projects assessing these topics since the creation of the company two years ago. This is a critical point for the development of the markets for CNT's. This will differentiate companies which will be able to provide this information to their customers.

6. When do you expect to achieve production volumes great enough to drive the cost per pound low enough to make CNTs the material of choice in the automotive, airplane and space industries (and other industries where weight and strength are paramount)?

Between 2006-10. We will then talk in hundreds of tons per year, for which there is a demand.

7. Currently, who are your main clients and how are they using your nanotubes?

Main clients are R&D departments of large corporate companies, in the area of electronics and polymers. In most cases they use the CNTs as an additive that brings added-value to their existing products or to develop new products based on a CNT technology (e.g FED display). The advantage as an additive is usually an enhancement of the properties at a low loading of nanotubes. This low loading also offers new possibilities like transparency in coatings. Other advantages can be lower manufacturing cost using a CNT-based technology.

Answers to these same questions from four other leading CNT producers can be found in issue #11 of our monthly premium report, NanoNews-Now. In this report NanoNews-Now Editor Rocky Rawstern covers nanotubes & buckyballs, and surveys CNT researchers and producers.

From leading research groups, get the answers to these questions:

1. Considering their potential to reduce weight and/or increase the strength of materials, under what conditions are we likely to start seeing widespread use of nanotubes (in industries such as automobile, airplane, and space vehicle manufacturing, and others where weight and strength are paramount)?

2. Under what conditions are we likely to see their use in the health/medical and electronics industries?

3. Given the recent buckyball/fish and nanotube/rat studies, what other precautions (if any) should be implemented in labs and production facilities, and what (if anything) should the public be worried about regarding nanoparticles?

4. In your opinion, regarding nanotubes and buckyballs, what are the:
  • Most significant discoveries or developments in the past year.
  • Most promising (or likely) applications in next five to ten years.

Each monthly issue of NanoNews-Now offers focussed analysis, interviews and reporting on one important sector of emerging nanotechnology. Learn more here, and go to the bottom of the page to purchase issue #11.

Some informed speculation on the potential of nanotubes include:
[ some links require one-time quick registration ]

Nanotube-powered micro-submarines, and batteries for tiny devices and pacemakers
Exploring Carbon Nanotubes
Components for MEMS sensors, and "lab on a chip"
Ultra-sensitive and selective nanoscale sensors
Single-molecule computer circuits
Nanotube hydroelectricity
Next-generation display panels
High-density magnetic memories
Nanovehicles for drug delivery
Fracture-resistant Ceramics
Nanotube-based TV
Electric voltage generator
Field Emission Displays
Optical Nanoantennas
Molecular switches
A space elevator

Disruptive Technology: Any new technology that is significantly cheaper than current, and/or is much higher performing, and/or has greater functionality, and/or is more convenient to use. Will revolutionize worldwide markets by superseding existing technologies. "Paradigm shifting" is a well-worn connotation. Although the term may sound negative to some, it is in fact neutral. It is only negative to organizations that are unprepared for change, and fail to adapt, only to fall behind, and ultimately disappear. The results are not just evolutionary, they are revolutionary. Companies will go out of business because a new competitor emerges, just as the advent of the zipper eradicated so much of the button industry, the vacuum cleaner decimated the broom industry, and the personal computer wiped out the typewriter.

Nanotechnology will affect many industries in the near-term and most in the medium-term. Some of these will experience a multiple-whammy. The number of nanotechnologies rapidly converging on some industries, such as data storage, is staggering, and while it might sometimes be difficult to predict the winners and losers, there's one thing you can be sure of - massive disruption.

Paul Holister. Chief Architect of the Nanotechnology Opportunity ReportTM, and editor of TNT weekly. CIO of CMP Cientifica and Founder and Research Director of the ENA.

Paul Holister

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