Revolutionizing industrial materials sustainably

A research funded by Kavli Foundation and Carbon Hub unlocks the potential of carbon nanotubes in the energy transition

An international team, which includes researchers from Politecnico di Milano, Rice University, University of Cambridge, Stanford University, UC Santa Barbara and other U.S. and European universities, has received $4 millions in funding from Kavli Foundation and the Carbon Hub of the Rice University to advance understanding of carbon nanotube synthesis and its potential for producing industrial materials more sustainably.

The research will be focused on the development of alternative materials to steel, aluminum and copper, whose production contributes to over 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon nanotube fibers boast strength comparable to steel and conductivity akin to copper. This makes them a promising and sustainable resource for materials needed for the energy transition an the electrification.

Current raw materials for nanotube production, such as natural gas and other hydrocarbons, are largely burned as fuels, also in the field of metal industry. As the world transitions to renewable energy, these abundant resources could be harnessed to produce global quantities of nanotubes, fixing the carbon content in durable and recyclable materials, as opposed to CO2 emission in the atmosphere, with the positive additional consequence of generating clean hydrogen as a valuable by-product.

The group of the Politecnico participating in the project is coordinated by Matteo Maestri, professor at the Department of Energy, and includes Mauro Bracconi (Department of Energy) and Matteo Pelucchi (Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering "Giulio Natta"). The researchers will focus on multiscale modelling and analysis of chemical reactions and reactors.

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