SouthWest NanoTechnologies Inc. (SWeNT), a manufacturer of single-wall and Specialty Multi-Wall (SMW) Carbon Nanotubes (CNT), and the University of Oklahoma (OU) have been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST). SWeNT was created in 2001 to spin off nanotube research developed at the University of Oklahoma.
This Oklahoma Nanotechnology Applications Project (ONAP), “Advanced Cathode Materials for Next Generation Batteries used in All Electric Vehicles,” is aimed at improving the Li-ion battery cyclability using SWeNT'’s SMW CNTs.
Under this three-year grant, SWeNT will be working with OU to solidify partnerships with automotive manufacturers as well as Li-ion battery producers to advance fully battery-powered vehicles.
SWeNT will supply nanocomposite paste formulations containing SMW CNTs which will be sold to fabricators of finished cathodes and battery manufacturers. In ten years, SWeNT estimates that demand for these materials could exceed six tons of CNT daily.
Li-ion batteries have a limited lifespan due to the degradation of battery capacity after each charge/discharge cycle. During charging and discharging, the conductive carbon black particles used in today’s Li-ion battery cathodes start to separate, which diminishes the ability of the carbon particle network to conduct electricity and heat efficiently, resulting in significant degradation of battery capacity over time, SWeNT says.
Due to the ultra-long tubular shape of SMW CNTs, they can form three-dimensional conductive networks at much lower loading than carbon black particles (capacity advantage). These networks are expected to be much more robust, to better withstand swelling/de-swelling and thermal/mechanical stresses (cyclability advantage).
SWeNT will make customized nanocomposite paste formulations that combine SMW CNTs with other cathode material components such as solvents, binders and possibly lithium compounds. These nanocomposite pastes are easier and safer to use than traditional multi-wall CNT powders, the company says.
ONAP was created by the Oklahoma Legislature to initiate a statewide project to develop an infrastructure that supports Oklahoma’s nanotechnology industry.