Carbon nanotube mass production: Principles and processes

Qiang Zhang, Jia Qi Huang, Meng Qiang Zhao, Wei Zhong Qian, Fei Wei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

349 Scopus citations


Our society requires new materials for a sustainable future, and carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are among the most important advanced materials. This Review describes the state-of-the-art of CNT synthesis, with a focus on their mass-production in industry. At the nanoscale, the production of CNTs involves the self-assembly of carbon atoms into a one-dimensional tubular structure. We describe how this synthesis can be achieved on the macroscopic scale in processes akin to the continuous tonne-scale mass production of chemical products in the modern chemical industry. Our overview includes discussions on processing methods for high-purity CNTs, and the handling of heat and mass transfer problems. Manufacturing strategies for agglomerated and aligned single-/multiwalled CNTs are used as examples of the engineering science of CNT production, which includes an understanding of their growth mechanism, agglomeration mechanism, reactor design, and process intensification. We aim to provide guidelines for the production and commercialization of CNTs. Although CNTs can now be produced on the tonne scale, knowledge of the growth mechanism at the atomic scale, the relationship between CNT structure and application, and scale-up of the production of CNTs with specific chirality are still inadequate. A multidisciplinary approach is a prerequisite for the sustainable development of the CNT industry. Carbon nanotube industry: The mass production of carbon nanotubes involves both self-assembly of carbon atoms at the nanoscopic scale and tonne-scale continuous production, a macroscopic process. The basic chemistry and engineering science of carbon nanotube production, including growth and agglomeration mechanisms, reactor design, and process intensification parameters, are reviewed to provide an overview of production and commercialization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)864-889
Number of pages26
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 18 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • General Energy


  • carbon nanotube
  • catalysis
  • chemical engineering
  • chemical vapor deposition
  • mass production


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