Carbon Nanotubes: Technologies and Commercial Prospects
The global market for carbon nanotubes was worth $50.9 million by the end of 2006 and will reach $79.1 million by 2007. At a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 73.8%, this booming market will reach $807.3 million by 2011.
Composites held the largest share of the market by a wide margin. In 2006 they were worth more than $43 million, more than 80% of the total global industry. By 2011, this sector will be worth $451.2 million,
Though its values in 2006 and 2007 were negligible, energy applications for CNT have an astronomical potential for growth, with a CAGR of more than 300% through the forecast period. Energy CNTs will be worth $53 million by 2011.
Among the numerous categories in the evolving field of newly synthesized nanomaterials, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are perhaps among the most dynamic and undergoing the most rapid pace of development. The past 5 years have witnessed relentless growth in research, development, and technological understanding of these remarkable materials. Universities, small businesses, and start-ups, as well as large corporations have continued to probe and exploit numerous commercial possibilities. As a result, the list of product applications is expanding considerably and is projected to do so well into the future.
The most tangible evidence for growth and interest is reflected first by the emergence of new CNT industrial producers capable of offering CNTs in near-commercial scale quantities at more affordable unit pricing. In addition, after several years of incubation, there is a new breed of university spin-offs or nanotechnology companies targeting specific application sectors. Additional evidence of growth is the increasing presence of larger, more established corporations that recognize the future market opportunities offered by CNTs. Finally, over the past 5 years there has been phenomenal growth in patent activity. For instance, in the past 3 years the number of CNT-related issued patents has almost tripled, reaching close to 600 patents in 2006 alone. For patents pending, the situation is even more dramatic, approaching a cumulative backlog close to 4500 patents applications.
In view of the technical momentum behind a growing multibillion dollar technology investment, and the enormous business potential, this report provides a timely update on carbon nanotubes-overall status of technology, and analysis of where the carbon nanotube market will be in the immediate future.
SCOPE OF STUDY
This report contains:
- An overview of the global market for carbon nanotubes, including definitions and important details about the industry
- Historical and current market data about carbon nanotubes which are then used to provide detailed forecasts through 2011; it also discusses the market in terms of commercial sectors and applications for CNTs, including composites, electronics, energy, and other categories
- Definitions, history, and product methodology for the latest important technological breakthroughs, as well as a discussion of unique properties of CNTs, and the different features and challenges of each.
- Profiles of important companies.
METHODOLOGY AND SOURCES OF INFORMATION
This report is primarily derived from the enormous amount of patent and technical literature relating to CNTs disclosed in the public domain. In addition, complementary information has also been drawn from the business community such as company investment news, company profiles, press releases, and personal telephone interviews with selected companies.
John Oliver, the author of this report, is the founder of Innov8 Solutions, which provides advanced materials consultation services to various clients. He has over 30 years industrial R&D experience in surface and colloid science spanning a wide range of materials technology. Primarily, working as a senior scientist at Xerox Research Centre of Canada, he developed an invaluable understanding in advanced materials used in digital printing technologies such as xerography and inkjet printing. More recently through his involvements with the Alberta Research Council and several local universities, his interests have evolved into the realm of nanomaterials and microsystems device integration. He has a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from McGill University, a BSc degree in Chemistry from Surrey University, U.K. His publications include more than 40 technical articles, 20 patents, and one technical book.
He is the editor of BCC's monthly Nanoparticle News and the author of a previous BCC technical report Quantum Dots: Technical Status and Market Prospects, NAN027A.
The estimated volume volume of research based on nanotubes (both single wall and specialty multiwall nanotubes) that have been produced worldwide to date, range from 10 to 20 kg, with a value of approximately $5 to $10 million. This report uses a figure of 22.1 kg in 2002, with a value of $7.2 million.
Multiwall nanotubes for modifying polymers are now sold in million-pound plus quantities.
Nanotubes may see near-term use in military, consumer and industrial products.
Long-term applications of nanotubes can easily exceed several billion dollars, but when, is debatable.
Nanotubes, cylinders of carbon atoms with diameters ranging from 1 nm to 300 nm, are some of the strongest, stiffest materials known. Furthermore, these materials are either conductors or semi-conductors, depending on their structure and environment. Nanotubes have some physical properties that have no counterpart in macroscopic materials.
With advances in synthetic techniques and the ability to characterize materials readily on an atomic scale, interest has been piqued in nanometer-size materials. Since nanometer-size grains, cylinders, and plates have dramatically increased surface areas compared to their conventional-size materials, the chemistry of these nano-size materials is altered compared to conventional materials.
Macroscopic carbon compounds, such as diamond and graphite, have been known for centuries. These two forms of carbon compounds have been used in various applications ranging from lubricants to wear-resistant coatings. Although these materials have been available for many years, new applications of these materials are still being discovered today. It is clear that both graphite and diamond are economically important materials.