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Economic and Environmental Tradeoffs in SWNT Production

M.L. Healy, A. Tanwani and J.A. Isaacs
Northeastern University, US

economic, environmental, SWNT, manufacturing, CVD

Assessment of economic and environmental attributes of nanomanufacturing during process development has significant potential to contribute to the quality and effectiveness of the processes, and will lead to development of competitive, safe and environmentally responsible manufacturing technologies. This type of process assessment is on-going at the Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN), which is an NSF-sponsored Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC), with three core partner academic institutions, (Northeastern University, University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and the University of New Hampshire). Initial research lies in evaluating the economic environmental tradeoffs in production processes for single wall carbon nanotubes by three general techniques: arc generation, chemical vapor deposition, and the HiPco process. An inventory of resources, energy and emissions for these processes has been created. The economic comparison of arc, CVD and HiPco processes were undertaken by developing cost models for each of these processes. Results revealed that HiPco is most economically viable for bulk production of pure single-walled carbon nanotubes, and cost drivers are identified to further reduce processing costs. Analyses using life cycle software indicate that HiPco has the potential for lower environmental effects than arc and CVD processes.

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