Deadline: 2019-10-29 Award: $150,000 CAD Open to: Canadian SMEs*
Carbon nanotubes have great potential for mechanical reinforcement in composite materials, including ceramic composites. However, bundling of the carbon nanotubes has prevented this potential from being realized. To overcome these bundling issues, the carbon nanotubes are being deposited by chemical vapour deposition methods onto ceramic powders, which have been stained with the catalyst. The resulting hybrid powders can then be sintered into the composite, in other words, compacted and bonded at high temperature and pressure into a solid plate. The nanotubes are deposited in an unbundled state on the ceramic powder and remain that way after sintering, which is the desired outcome, but the lack of uniformity in the deposition results in weaknesses of the material. In order to get a uniform distribution of these unbundled carbon nanotubes in the composite, the carbon nanotubes must be uniformly deposited onto the ceramic powders. There are technical challenges to overcome in getting this uniform deposition, including issues with catalyst causing the powder to clump up and the need for a uniform gas flow around the catalyst coated ceramic powders during the chemical vapour deposition process. This call concerns overcoming these challenges. NRC is seeking a ceramic powder processing solution that will upgrade raw ceramic powder into a uniformly coated, sinterable, hybrid carbon nanotube ceramic powder that can be produced with production rates > 1 kg / h.