If you were told that carbon atoms could be the framework of anything from cancer treatment to space elevators to energy storage, would you believe it? I would be immediately doubtful. However, growing bodies of evidence are indicating carbon nanotubes (CNTs), cylindrical sheets of carbon latticework, as the force behind such novel ideas. (1) CNTs are both fibrous and conductive, and are incredibly unique compared to other molecules with similar properties. However, to access their properties for use in applications, CNTs must first be dispersed, oftentimes into a liquid medium. Researchers may use one of many methods to disperse CNTs; however, homogenization, a comparatively new arrival to the market, may be incredibly efficient compared with other existing methods. Keep reading to better understand why you should homogenize when making carbon nanotube dispersions.
Accelerated Processing Time
Sonication has been classically used to disperse CNTs; over a prolonged period of time, separation of bundles allows for dispersion into a liquid medium. However, emergence of the high pressure homogenizer demonstrated that the same process can be accomplished over a very short period of time. By adhering to this accelerated process time, experiments can be run quicker and at a lower cost to laboratory resources. (2)
Decreased Particle Size
CNTs contain naturally occurring agglomerates that have unique properties; for example, their strength and tenacity is rare among other fibrous materials, and their thermal and electrical conductivity are high compared with other conductive materials. To access these properties, the agglomerates must be dispersed. Although other mixing methods exist, such as a three roll mill or torus mill, homogenization can both decrease particle size more than other known methods and work gently enough to minimize conductive filler degradations. (3)
Increased Amount of CNT in Composite
By increasing the amount of CNT in the composite, one study showed that this leads to increased conductivity, AKA enhanced function. In the study, researchers were able to increase the CNT concentration to above 50% through homogenization. However, additional studies will be needed to determine the upper critical CNT concentration. (4)
BEE International: Homogenizers That Support Chemical Processing
Over the next few years, many labs that require carbon nanotube dispersions may begin using a homogenizer for the process, if not using one already. BEE International Technologies is globally recognized among lab managers and researchers for their high pressure homogenizers. BEEI’s particle reduction homogenizer technology creates more consistent emulsions and dispersions; these can result in improved chemical reactions, reduced spending, and eliminated need for volatile organic compounds. Additionally, our modular technology offers unique processing setups to address specific processing challenges.
Products that benefit from our high pressure homogenizer, specific to the chemical process, include polymers, pigments, additives/resins, adhesives/pastes, and importantly, carbon nanotubes.
Learn more about how BEEI can improve your carbon nanotube dispersion process by visiting us here! If you're interested in more ways that homogenization can improve your particle size reduction applications, download our eBook below: