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Nanotechnology. 2009 Sep 16;20(37):375602. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/20/37/375602. Epub 2009 Aug 26.

Process synthesis and optimization for the production of carbon nanostructures.

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School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of the Witwatersrand, Wits 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa.


A swirled fluidized bed chemical vapour deposition (SFCVD) reactor has been manufactured and optimized to produce carbon nanostructures on a continuous basis using in situ formation of floating catalyst particles by thermal decomposition of organometallic ferrocene. During the process optimization, carbon nanoballs were produced in the absence of a catalyst at temperatures higher than 1000 degrees C, while carbon nanofibres, single-walled carbon nanotubes, helical carbon nanotubes, multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) and carbon nanofibres (CNFs) were produced in the presence of a catalyst at lower temperatures of between 750 and 900 degrees C. The optimum conditions for producing carbon nanostructures were a temperature of 850 degrees C, acetylene flow rate of 100 ml min(-1), and acetylene gas was used as the carbon source. All carbon nanostructures produced have morphologies and diameters ranging from 15 to 200 nm and wall thicknesses between 0.5 and 0.8 nm. In comparison to the quantity of MWCNTs produced with other methods described in the literature, the SFCVD technique was superior to floating catalytic CVD (horizontal fixed bed) and microwave CVD but inferior to rotary tube CVD.

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