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Scaling up carbon nanotube film production

Significant progress in controlling the chemistry of the CNT synthesis process.

8th April 2024

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Canatu, Finland


Canatu and Denso have successfully started up their new, jointly developed carbon nanotube (CNT) reactor at the Canatu factory in Finland.

The new high-performance reactor was developed to scale-up CNT film manufacturing to meet increasing demand to provide the global ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) market with more competitive products.

Through this development, Canatu and Denso can triple the throughput of Canatu CNT films while maintaining record-high performance.

CNTs still hold immense potential, with unparalleled properties, but one key obstacle impeding their widespread application is the challenge of controlling their growth and variation during mass-production. Through joint development, Canatu and Denso have significantly progressed in scaling and controlling the chemistry of Canatu’s proprietary CNT synthesis process. This enables large-scale production with consistent quality for highly engineered solutions.

“Product quality and stable supply chains are the most important things in the automotive business and what we at Denso always give top priority to,” said Toshihiko Muraki, head of Denso’s Passenger Vehicle business unit. “We are very excited about the achievement of our joint team and believe this significant step will make our products more valuable and competitive.”

“Canatu has highly developed expertise in CNT film manufacturing through experience in mass production since 2015,” added Taneli Juntunen, vice president of engineering at Canatu. “We have fine-tuned our own process to ensure consistent quality. With the new high-performance reactor, we will take a giant leap forward in industrial-scale carbon nanotube film manufacturing.”

The joint development programme focused on improving the reactor design, process controls and serviceability. Key design changes included sizing up the reactor and its components and implementing a novel, parallel furnace design to multiply the synthesis process yield. Optimal carbon nanotube growth conditions to maximise yield were realized through modular reactor prototypes and system-scale simulations. The new reactor cluster is equipped with in-situ monitoring of carbon nanotube growth and a new collection chamber design, that together ensureslow ADAS heater-to-heater variation. For customers, this means consistent quality in terms of product uniformity. Finally, thanks to improved serviceability, the operating rate target of 90% has been achieved, with service time reduced to 4% of operating time.

High-performance reactors are now integrated into the fully automated roll-to-roll Canatu CNT film manufacturing line and deployed during mass-production. Canatu CNT film throughput can be further scaled by integrating up to four additional high-performance reactors into the step-and-repeat film manufacturing line.

Globally headquartered Denso, headquartered in Kariya, Japan,  is a $48 billion mobility supplier that develops advanced technology and components for nearly every vehicle make and model on the road today.

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