(19)
(11)EP 3 778 475 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION
published in accordance with Art. 153(4) EPC

(43)Date of publication:
17.02.2021 Bulletin 2021/07

(21)Application number: 18913162.6

(22)Date of filing:  26.03.2018
(51)Int. Cl.: 
C01B 32/16  (2017.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/CN2018/080531
(87)International publication number:
WO 2019/183766 (03.10.2019 Gazette  2019/40)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(71)Applicant: SUZHOU CREATIVE NANO CARBON CO., LTD.
Suzhou, Jiangsu 215123 (CN)

(72)Inventors:
  • YONG, Zhenzhong
    Suzhou, Jiangsu 215123 (CN)
  • LI, Qingwen
    Suzhou, Jiangsu 215123 (CN)
  • JIN, Hehua
    Suzhou, Jiangsu 215123 (CN)
  • LI, Da
    Suzhou, Jiangsu 215123 (CN)
  • LI, Zhi
    Suzhou, Jiangsu 215123 (CN)

(74)Representative: Michalski Hüttermann & Partner Patentanwälte mbB 
Speditionstraße 21
40221 Düsseldorf
40221 Düsseldorf (DE)

  


(54)CARBON NANOTUBE PREPARATION SYSTEM


(57) Provided is a carbon nanotube preparation system, comprising: a pre-growth tube (210) for carrying out early preparative reaction of materials before the generation of a carbon nanotube; an atomizer (220) for atomizing materials of a carbon nanotube and spraying the atomized materials into the pre-growth tube (210), with the atomizer (220) being arranged at the front end of the pre-growth tube (210), the atomizer (220) being provided with a spray output tube (221), and the spray output tube (221) extending into the pre-growth tube (210); a growth tube (230) for generating a carbon nanotube and continuously growing the generated carbon nanotube, with the front end of the growth tube (230) being connected to the rear end of the pre-growth tube (210) in a sealed manner; and an air curtain generator (240) for generating an air curtain covering atomized flows, around an outlet of the spray output tube (221), with the air curtain extending parallel to the extension direction of the pre-growth tube (210), and the air curtain generator (240) being arranged in the pre-growth tube (210). By means of the carbon nanotube preparation system, the air curtain is formed around the spray output tube; a laminar flow is formed in the pre-growth tube by means of the air curtain, so that the air flow is stabilized; and the adhesion of impurities or carbon nanotubes is also avoided, such that continuous growth of a carbon nanotube is guaranteed.




Description

TECHNICAL FIELD



[0001] The present invention relates to a carbon nanotube preparation device, in particular to a carbon nanotube preparation system.

BACKGROUND



[0002] As a typical one-dimensional nano-material, carbon nanotube material, which has excellent mechanical, thermal and electrical properties, is applied in a wide range of fields. Many universities, research institutes and companies, both at home and abroad, are studying how to synthesize carbon nanotube materials with better properties on a macroscopic level.

[0003] The common carbon nanotube synthesis method is preparing a macroscopic carbon nanotube material such as carbon nanotube film and carbon nanotube fiber based on the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method. However, there is a big difference between laboratory studies and industrialized large-scale production, especially for CVD process in which the impacts caused by unstable factors are greater as the size of the devices increases. Many issues that do not appear in the laboratory stage will have a significant impact on the synthesis and quality of carbon nanotube materials during the industrialization. Therefore, how to improve the stability of the process and the continuity of production has become an important issue in the industrialization of carbon nanotubes.

[0004] In prior art, there is a method of guiding and pulling the growth direction and continuous growth of carbon nanotubes by setting an electric field or a magnetic field. However, during the industrialization, the complexity of the devices and the difficulty in controlling are increased, resulting in difficulties in applying the method maturely. Therefore, how to simply and practically improve the stability and continuity of the process remains to be solved.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0005] On the basis of this, with regard to the problem of how to achieve the stability and continuity of carbon nanotube production, it is necessary to provide a carbon nanotube preparation system which can ensure the stability of the air flow in the process and the continuous and stable synthesis of carbon nanotubes so as to promote the industrialization of carbon nanotube material production.

[0006] The present invention provides a carbon nanotube preparation system comprising:

a pre-growth tube, for an early pre-reaction of raw materials before generation of carbon nanotubes;

an atomizer, for atomizing the carbon nanotube raw materials and then spraying the atomized raw materials into the pre-growth tube; the atomizer is provided at the front end of the pre-growth tube, and has a spray output tube that extends into the pre-growth tube;

a growth tube, for generating carbon nanotubes and continuous growth of the generated carbon nanotubes; the front end of the growth tube is hermetically connected to the rear end of the pre-growth tube; and

an air curtain generator, for forming an air curtain enclosing an atomizing air flow around the outlet of the spray output tube, and the air curtain extends parallel to the extension direction of the pre-growth tube; the air curtain generator is provided inside the pre-growth tube.



[0007] In above carbon nanotube preparation system, the air curtain is formed around the spray output tube. On the one hand, a laminar flow is formed in the pre-growth tube through the air curtain to stabilize the air flow, and on the other hand, stickiness of the carbon nanotubes or impurities is avoided, thereby ensuring the continuous growth of the carbon nanotubes.

[0008] In one embodiment, the air curtain generator comprises at least one air curtain forming plate which is provided with a plurality of air holes.

[0009] In one embodiment, the air curtain forming plate has a ring shape, and the spray output tube is located at the hollow center of the air curtain forming plate; the air holes are radially distributed on the air curtain forming plate.

[0010] In one embodiment, the edge contour of the air curtain forming plate matches the inner wall of the pre-growth tube, at least part of the air holes are located in the edge area of the air curtain forming plate so as to form an air curtain flow clung to the inner wall of the pre-growth tube.

[0011] In one embodiment, the air curtain generator further comprises at least one air inlet for inputting carrier gas into the pre-growth tube, and the air inlet is located at the front end of the pre-growth tube.

[0012] In one embodiment, the pre-growth tube is connected with the growth tube by a tubular first heat-insulating element.

[0013] In one embodiment, the temperature inside the pre-growth tube is within a range of 200 to 950°C; and
the temperature inside the growth tube is within a range of 1100 to 1600°C.

[0014] In one embodiment, the pre-growth tube comprises a first pre-growth segment and a second pre-growth segment;
the first pre-growth segment is close to the front end of the pre-growth tube, and the second pre-growth segment is close to the rear end of the pre-growth tube; and
the temperature inside the first pre-growth segment is different from that inside the second pre-growth segment.

[0015] In one embodiment, a first temperature controller is provided outside the first pre-growth segment, and a second temperature controller is provided outside the second pre-growth segment; and
the first pre-growth segment is connected with the second pre-growth segment by a second heat-insulating element.

[0016] In one embodiment, the first temperature controller comprises a first heating unit and a first cooling unit; and
the second temperature controller comprises a second heating unit and a second cooling unit.

[0017] In one embodiment, the temperature inside the first pre-growth segment is within a range of 200 to 300 °C; and
the temperature inside the second pre-growth segment is within a range of 700 to 950 °C.

[0018] In one embodiment, the inner wall of the growth tube is provided with an anti-sticking coating for preventing the nano-material from attaching on the inner wall of the growth tube.

[0019] In one embodiment, the anti-sticking coating is zirconium oxide or zinc oxide.

[0020] In one embodiment, the growth tube is provided with vent holes for passing the carrier gas to form a gas protective layer on the inner wall surface of the growth tube, and the vent holes penetrate the wall of the growth tube and are evenly distributed.

[0021] In one embodiment, an included angle between the axial direction of the vent hole and the extending direction of the growth tube is less than 5 degrees.

[0022] In one embodiment, the atomizer includes an ultrasonic atomizing nozzle for uniformly mixing, atomizing and then spraying out the raw materials, and an ultrasonic controller for adjusting an ultrasonic value.

[0023] In one embodiment, the nano-material synthesis system is vertical or horizontal.

[0024] In one embodiment, the pre-growth tube and the growth tube are provided vertically, the atomizer is provided vertically along the extending direction of the pre-growth tube and the growth tube.

[0025] In one embodiment, the air curtain is distributed parallel along the direction of gravity.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0026] 

FIG. 1 is a schematic structural view of an industrialized carbon nanotube material continuous production system according to one embodiment;

FIG. 2 is a schematic structural view of a carbon nanotube synthesis system according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a schematic structural view of an air curtain forming plate according to the embodiment as shown in FIG. 2; wherein FIG. 3a is a front view of the air curtain forming plate, FIG. 3b is a sectional view of the air curtain forming plate along B-B, and FIG. 3c is a partial enlarged view of the area D enclosed by the dashed line in FIG. 3b.

FIG. 4 is a schematic structural view of an air curtain forming plate according to another embodiment of FIG. 2; wherein FIG. 4a is a front view of the air curtain forming plate, FIG. 4b is a sectional view of the air curtain forming plate along B-B, and FIG. 4c is a partial enlarged view of the area E enclosed by the dashed line in FIG. 4b.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS



[0027] In order to make the above objects, features, and advantages of the present invention more apparent, the specific embodiments of the present invention are described in detail below with reference to the accompanying drawings. In the following description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a full understanding of the present invention. However, the present invention can be implemented in many other ways than those described herein, and those skilled in the art can make similar improvements without departing from the essence of the present invention. Therefore, the present invention is not limited by the specific embodiments disclosed below.

[0028] At present, a method of preparing carbon nanotubes basically comprises decomposing the carbon source into atom or ion form using various applied energy, and then aggregating to generate carbon nanotube macroscopic material. In general, there are three main methods of preparing carbon nanotubes: arc discharge method, laser ablation method, and chemical vapor deposition method. In the industrialization, carbon nanotubes are generally prepared by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method.

[0029] The method of preparing carbon nanotubes by CVD, mainly based on gaseous or liquid hydrocarbons as a carbon source, comprises atomizing the carbon source, adding catalyst at appropriate temperature to crack the carbon source into carbon clusters on the surface of the catalyst particles, forming carbon nanotubes by recombing the carbon atoms, and then obtaining the carbon nanotube material with different forms by a specially designed collecting device. Wherein, the catalyst is carried along with the carbon source by the carrier gas into the furnace body. This preparation method is called floating catalytic carbon nanotube preparation technology. In the present invention, the floating catalytic carbon nanotube process is mainly adopted to prepare carbon nanotubes.

[0030] FIG. 1 is a schematic structural view of an industrialized carbon nanotube material continuous production system according to one embodiment. As shown in FIG. 1, the carbon nanotube production system 100 comprises a carbon nanotube preparation system 200, a carbon nanotube collection system 300, and an exhaust system 400. The carbon nanotube preparation system 200 is used to synthesize raw materials into continuous carbon nanotubes. The carbon nanotube collection system 300 is used to densify the prepared carbon nanotubes, process and shape the prepared carbon nanotubes into a desired material, and collect the desired material. The carbon nanotube collection system 300 may process the carbon nanotubes into wire or film sheets and collect them into rolls. The exhaust system 400 is used to collect and treat the reacted gas together, so as to prevent the harmful gas in the production system 100 from being discharged into the atmosphere, and to prevent the residual gas in the production system 100 from interfering with the stability of the internal air flow.

[0031] FIG. 2 is a schematic structural view of a carbon nanotube synthesis system according to one embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 2, the carbon nanotube preparation system 200 comprises a pre-growth tube 210, an atomizer 220, a growth tube 230, and an air curtain generator 240. The pre-growth tube 210 is used for an early pre-reaction of raw materials before the generation of carbon nanotubes. The atomizer 220 is used for atomizing the carbon nanotube raw materials and then spraying the atomized raw materials into the pre-growth tube 210. The atomizer 220 is provided at the front end of the pre-growth tube 210, and has a spray output tube 221 that extends into the pre-growth tube 210. The growth tube 230 is used for generating carbon nanotubes and continuous growth of the generated carbon nanotubes. The front end of the growth tube 230 is hermetically connected to the rear end of the pre-growth tube 210.

[0032] As shown in FIG. 2, in one embodiment, the atomizer 220 further comprises a peristaltic pump 222, an ultrasonic controller 223, and an ultrasonic atomizing nozzle 224. The reactive raw materials, after mixed uniformly in the peristaltic pump 222, with adjusting the ultrasonic value by the ultrasonic controller 223, enter the pre-growth tube 210 via the ultrasonic atomizing nozzle 224 and the spray output tube 221.

[0033] In one embodiment, the carbon source is gaseous carbon source or liquid carbon source, and may be hydrocarbon substances such as acetylene, ethanol, methane, ethylene, propylene, butylene, n-hexane, carbon monoxide, benzene and the like.

[0034] In one embodiment, the catalyst may be one or any combination of transition metals such as iron, diamond, nickel, and the like, as well as oxides or other compounds thereof.

[0035] In one embodiment, a catalyst precursor, which is decomposed into metal atoms at a certain temperature, may be used. Since the diameter of carbon nanotubes is determined by the diameter of the catalyst particles, it is possible to produce carbon nanotubes with high purity and uniform size distribution by selecting and controlling the type and particle size of the catalyst. In one embodiment, the catalyst precursor is ferrocene Fe(C5H5)2.

[0036] In one embodiment, the raw material may also comprise an accelerant for increasing the activity of catalyst. The accelerant may be thiophene, other sulfur compounds or a combination thereof. The accelerant may be tetrahydrothiophene C4H8S.

[0037] In one embodiment, a carrier gas can be introduced into the atomizer 220. After the liquid carbon source and other raw material are atomized into evenly distributed droplets, the raw materials are carried into the pre-growth tube 210 by the carrier gas. The carrier gas may be H2, He or any other inert gas. In one embodiment, the carrier gas may be a mixture gas of H2 and Ar. The introduction of the carrier gas is not only beneficial for controlling the atomization form after atomization of the liquid carbon source to make the atomized liquid carbon source reach the high-temperature reaction zone inside the growth tube 230 quickly, but helps maintain the continuity and stability of the raw material supply.

[0038] In one embodiment, the temperature inside the spray output tube 221 is within a range of 100 to 250 °C in order to prevent the raw material mixture in the spray output tube 221 from condensing on the inner wall of the spray output tube 221.

[0039] In one embodiment, the total flow of the carrier gas in the atomizer is controlled within a range of 1 to 100 L/min, the injection rate of the liquid carbon source is controlled within a range of 10 to 1500ml/h, and the injection flow of the gaseous carbon source is controlled within a range of 1 to 100 L/min, in order to ensure that the raw material input and the carbon nanotube synthesis rate are basically the same, which contributes to the continuity of carbon nanotube production.

[0040] In one embodiment, the pre-growth tube 210 has a front end and a rear end opposite to the front end. There is an extension channel between the front end and the rear end.

[0041] In one embodiment, the spray output tube 221 of the atomizer 220 is hermetically connected to the front end of the pre-growth tube 210. The spray output tube 221 may be fixed hermetically at the front end of the pre-growth tube 210 by providing a flange.

[0042] In one embodiment, the diameter of the pre-growth tube 210 is equal to that of the growth tube 230.

[0043] In one embodiment, the pre-growth tube 210 has a diameter within a range of 50 to 500 mm and a length within a range of 200 to 500 mm. The growth tube 230 has a length within a range of 500 to 2000 mm.

[0044] As shown in FIG. 2, the carbon nanotube preparation system 200 further comprises an air curtain generator 240 that is used for forming an air curtain enclosing an atomizing air flow around the outlet of the spray output tube 221, and the air curtain extends parallel to the extension direction (A) of the pre-growth tube 210. The air curtain generator 240 is provided inside the pre-growth tube 210.

[0045] It is to be understood that in the CVD process, the gas easily forms a turbulent flow in the furnace body, which is not conducive to the stability of subsequent processes. Especially in the industrialized process, since the stability of the air flow is more difficult to control after the size of the equipment is enlarged, the turbulent flow should be avoided as much as possible in the carbon nanotube preparation system 200. The most ideal situation is to enable the gas to form a stable laminar flow. In the prior art, the carrier gas is usually introduced into a raw material injection device to increase the uniformity of vaporization of the liquid carbon source. Furthermore, a liner is provided between the raw material injection device and a reaction tube to guide the growth direction of carbon nanotubes. However, at the junction of the liner and the reaction tube, the air flow creates a turbulent flow due to the change in cross-sectional area. On the other hand, as the reaction time increases, impurities generated in the reaction will accumulate at the end of the liner, i.e. at the junction of the liner and the reaction tube, which makes the carbon nanotubes easily stick to the liner wall at the end of the liner, resulting in the breakage of the carbon nanotubes and directly affecting the continuous growth of the carbon nanotubes. Therefore, the current technology still has deficiencies in controlling the stability of the air flow and avoiding the breakage of the carbon nanotubes, which is not conducive to a stable and continuous floating process. Particularly in the large-diameter furnace tube floating catalytic reaction system, the above deficiencies will be more apparent.

[0046] Actually, in the above technical solution of the present invention, the traditional liner is canceled, and an air curtain is formed around the spray output tube 221 of the atomizer 220. On the one hand, a laminar flow is formed in the pre-growth tube through the air curtain to stabilize the air flow, and on the other hand, sticking of the carbon nanotubes or impurities is avoided, thereby ensuring the continuous growth of the carbon nanotubes.

[0047] In one embodiment, the air curtain generator 240 comprises at least one air curtain forming plate 241 which is provided with a plurality of air holes.

[0048] FIG. 3 is a schematic structural view of the air curtain forming plate according to one embodiment as shown in FIG. 2; wherein FIG. 3a is a front view of the air curtain forming plate, FIG. 3b is a sectional view of the air curtain forming plate along B-B, and FIG. 3c is a partial enlarged view of the area D enclosed by the dashed line in FIG. 3b. As shown in FIG. 2 and FIG. 3, the air curtain forming plate 241 has a ring shape, and the spray output tube 221 is located at the hollow center of the air curtain forming plate 241. The air holes are radially distributed on the air curtain forming plate 241.

[0049] In one embodiment, the edge contour of the air curtain forming plate 241 matches the inner wall of the pre-growth tube 210, at least part of the air holes are located in the edge area of the air curtain forming plate 241 so as to form an air curtain flow clung to the inner wall of the pre-growth tube 210.

[0050] As shown in FIG. 3c, the air holes on the air curtain forming plate 241 are straight holes having the same hole diameter.

[0051] In one embodiment, the number of air curtain forming plate 241 maybe plural. A plurality of air curtain forming plates 241 are stacked one above the other along the extending direction of the pre-growth tube 210. The plurality of air curtain forming plates 241 are in parallel relationship with each other.

[0052] In one embodiment, there are 1 to 4 air curtain forming plates 241 in the air curtain generator 240.

[0053] FIG. 4 is a schematic structural view of an air curtain forming plate according to another embodiment in FIG. 2; wherein FIG. 4a is the front view of the air curtain forming plate, FIG. 4b is the sectional view of the air curtain forming plate along B-B, and FIG. 4c is a partial enlarged view of the area E enclosed by the dashed line in FIG. 4b. As shown in FIG. 4c, the air holes on the air curtain forming plate 241 maybe flared holes which have a diameter wider in the front, and narrower in the rear.

[0054] In one embodiment, the air holes are symmetrically distributed along the hollow center at the air curtain forming plate 241, and the number of air holes on one side is 2 to 6. The diameter of the air holes may be 10 cm.

[0055] As shown in FIG. 2, the air curtain generator 240 further comprises at least one air inlet 242 for inputting carrier gas into the pre-growth tube 210, and the air inlet 242 is located at the front end of the pre-growth tube 210.

[0056] In one embodiment, the air curtain generator 240 comprises two air inlets 242 which are distributed on both sides of the spray output tube 221. The air inlets 242 may be provided on the flange. The carrier gas enters the pre-growth tube 210 via the air inlets 242, and forms an air flow uniformly distributed in the same direction via 1 to 4 layers of the air curtain forming plates 241.

[0057] In one embodiment, the total flow of the carrier gas inputted from the air curtain generator 240 is controlled within a range of 1 to 20 L/min.

[0058] After the raw material gas enters the pre-growth tube 210, firstly the catalyst precursor needs to be decomposed to obtain catalyst iron atoms. Then, the accelerator needs to be decomposed to release sulfur atoms, and the sulfur atoms can interact with the cluster of catalyst particles to control the size distribution of the catalyst particles, thereby controlling the diameter of the carbon nanotube structure. Finally, the carbon source is decomposed and the carbon nanotubes are grown on the catalyst particles. Wherein, the temperature ranges of decomposition of the catalyst precursor, decomposition of the accelerator, and decomposition of the carbon source are all different. In order to ensure the smooth progress of the reaction and the quality of the carbon nanotubes, it is necessary to refine the reaction temperature in different regions inside the pre-growth tube 210 and the growth tube 230 to form a gradient temperature.

[0059] In one embodiment, the reaction including the decomposition of the catalyst precursor and the decomposition of the accelerator is performed in the pre-growth tube 210, and the reaction including the decomposition of the carbon source and the growth of the carbon nanotubes is performed in the growth tube 230. Therefore, the temperature inside the pre-growth tube 210 is different from that inside the growth tube 230.

[0060] In one embodiment, the temperature inside the pre-growth tube 210 is within a range of 200 to 950°C; the temperature inside the growth tube 230 is within a range of 1100 to 1600°C.

[0061] As shown in FIG. 2, in one embodiment, the pre-growth tube 210 is connected with the growth tube 230 by a tubular first heat-insulating element 250.

[0062] The first heat-insulating element 250 is used for reducing the mutual interference between the temperature of the pre-growth tube 210 and the temperature of the growth tube 230. In order to ensure the decomposition of the carbon source, the temperature in the growth tube 230 needs to reach to a range of 1100 to 1600 °C. In the rear end of the pre-growth tube, the temperature required for the decomposition of the accelerator is generally within a range of 700 to 950°C. There is a certain temperature difference between the pre-growth tube 210 and the growth tube 230. In order to ensure the relative independence of the temperature in each area and to avoid the related interference, the pre-growth tube 210 is separated from the growth tube 230 by a certain distance, and is connected with the growth tube 230 by the first heat-insulating element 250 having heat-insulating function, to reduce the interference between different areas.

[0063] In one embodiment, the first heat-insulating element 250 is composed of a heat insulating material, and the diameter of first heat-insulating element 250 is the same as that of the growth tube 230 and the pre-growth tube 210. The first heat-insulating element 250 is hermetically connected with the growth tube 230 and the pre-growth tube 210, respectively.

[0064] In one embodiment, the first heat-insulating element 250 is composed of a high-temperature heat insulating material that may be one of high-alumina brick, corundum, magnesium brick and high-temperature refractory fiber.

[0065] In one embodiment, the first heat-insulating element 250 has a diameter within a range of 50 to 500 mm, and a length within a range of 50 to 200mm.

[0066] As shown in FIG. 2, in one embodiment, the pre-growth tube 210 is segmented and includes at least a first pre-growth segment 211 and a second pre-growth segment 212. The first pre-growth segment 211 is a portion close to the front end, and the second pre-growth segment 212 is a portion close to the rear end. The first pre-growth segment 211 is a reaction zone where the catalyst precursor decomposes, and the second pre-growth segment 212 is a reaction zone where the accelerator decomposes. The temperature inside the first pre-growth segment 211 is different from that inside the second pre-growth segment 212.

[0067] In one embodiment, the temperature inside the first pre-growth segment 211 is within a range of 200 to 300 °C. The temperature inside the second pre-growth segment 212 is within a range of 700 to 950 °C.

[0068] In one embodiment, the first pre-growth segment 211 is connected with the second pre-growth segment 212 by a second heat-insulating element 260 in order to reduce the temperature interference between the first pre-growth segment 211 and the second pre-growth segment 212.

[0069] In one embodiment, the second heat-insulating element 260 is composed of a heat-insulating material. The diameter of second heat-insulating element 260 is the same as that of the first pre-growth segment 211 and the second pre-growth segment 212. Two sides of the second heat-insulating element 260 are hermetically connected with the first pre-growth segment 211 and the second pre-growth segment 212, respectively.

[0070] In one embodiment, the second heat-insulating element 260 has a diameter within a range of 50 to 500mm, and a length within a range of 50 to 200mm.

[0071] As shown in FIG. 2, a first temperature controller 271, a second temperature controller 272, and a third temperature controller 273 are also provided outside the first pre-growth segment 211, the second pre-growth segment 212, and the growth tube 230, respectively.

[0072] The first temperature controller 271 is used for controlling the temperature inside the first pre-growth segment 211, namely controlling the temperature inside the first pre-growth segment 211 within a certain range and ensuring the uniform temperature distribution in the first pre-growth segment 211.

[0073] In one embodiment, the first temperature controller 271 comprises a first heating unit and a first cooling unit. The first temperature controller 271 further comprises a number of temperature sensors that are capable to measure the temperature value inside the first pre-growth segment 211.

[0074] The second temperature controller 272 is used for controlling the temperature inside the second pre-growth segment 212, namely controlling the temperature inside the second pre-growth segment 212 within a certain range and ensuring the uniform temperature distribution in the second pre-growth segment 212. In one embodiment, the second temperature controller 272 comprises a second heating unit and a second cooling unit. The second temperature controller 272 further comprises a number of temperature sensors that are capable to measure the temperature value inside the second pre-growth segment 212.

[0075] A third temperature controller 273 is used for controlling the temperature inside the growth tube 230, namely controlling the temperature inside the growth tube 230 within a certain range and ensuring the uniform temperature distribution in the growth tube 230. In one embodiment, the third temperature controller 273 comprises a second heating unit and a second cooling unit. The third temperature controller 273 further comprises a number of temperature sensors that are capable to measure the temperature value inside the growth tube 230.

[0076] In one embodiment, the first heating unit, the second heating unit and the third heating unit may use steam heating, hot water heating, mineral oil heating, electromagnetic induction heating, resistance heating or the like.

[0077] In one embodiment, the first cooling unit, the second cooling unit and the third cooling unit may use refrigerant cooling, cooling water cooling, cooling oil cooling, or the like.

[0078] In the present invention, the reaction region is refined and divided into three parts: the first pre-growth tube, the second pre-growth tube, and the growth tube. There is a certain space provided between each segment to reduce the interference between each other. By segmented management, the accuracy of temperature is improved, which is beneficial to the precise control of the process and improves the quality of carbon nanotubes.

[0079] In one embodiment, the inner wall of the growth tube 230 is provided with an anti-sticking coating for preventing the nano-material from attaching on the inner wall of the growth tube 230.

[0080] In one embodiment, the anti-sticking coating is zirconium oxide or zinc oxide.

[0081] During the industrialized continuous production of carbon nanotubes, the production cannot be continued due to the breakage of carbon nanotubes, which is the most important factor that hinders the continuous production of carbon nanotubes. Wherein, the adhesion and stickiness of carbon nanotubes to the tube wall are the main causes of carbon nanotubes fracture. By preparing a high temperature resistant anti-sticking coating of zirconium oxide or zinc oxide on the inner wall of the growth tube 230, it is advantageous to reduce the adhesion and sticking of the carbon nanotubes to the tube wall.

[0082] In one embodiment, the arithmetic mean deviation Ra of the surface roughness profile of the anti-sticking coating is within a range of 0.1 µm to 1 µm.

[0083] In one embodiment, the growth tube 230 is provided with vent holes for passing a carrier gas to form a gas protective layer on the inner wall surface of the growth tube, and the vent holes penetrate the wall of the growth tube 230 and are evenly distributed. By providing a protective gas near the inner wall of the growth tube 230, the sticking of the carbon nanotubes can be avoided, and it is also advantageous to guide the moving direction of the carbon nanotubes and assist the collection of the carbon nanotubes.

[0084] In one embodiment, the included angle between the axial direction of the vent hole and the extending direction of the growth tube is less than 5 degrees, which allows the carrier gas to form a gas protective layer on the inner wall surface.

[0085] In one embodiment, the carbon nanotube preparation system 200 may be in a horizontal distribution structure, that is, the atomizer 220, the pre-growth tube 210, and the growth tube 230 are sequentially arranged horizontally.

[0086] In one embodiment, the carbon nanotube preparation system 200 may be in a vertical distribution structure, that is, the atomizer 220, the pre-growth tube 210, and the growth tube 230 are sequentially arranged vertically. In this way, the air curtain formed by the air curtain generator 240 is distributed parallel along the direction of gravity.

[0087] In one embodiment, the carbon nanotube preparation system 200 may be in a vertical distribution structure. The carbon nanotube collection system 300 and the exhaust system 400 may be in a horizontal distribution structure to facilitate the collection of carbon nanotubes.

[0088] It should be understood that in the horizontal structure, the gas is affected by gravity, thus it is difficult to ensure that the air curtain can maintain an absolute horizontal laminar flow in the horizontal direction. However, by arranging the carbon nanotube preparation system 200 in a vertical type, it is possible to overcome the influence of gravity and ensure the absolute laminar flow of the air curtain. Moreover, the effect of gravity may help the consistency of the direction of the air flow in the pre-growth tube 210 and the growth tube 230, and improve the stability of the air flow in the system greatly. This advantage is unmatched by horizontal systems.

[0089] In practical applications, the vertical system can continuously produce for up to 15 hours, thus superior to the horizontal system (usually the horizontal system can produce about 5 hours of continuous production).

[0090] The nanotube film materials obtained by the preparation system in the present invention may have a conductivity within a range of 5×104 to 5×105S/m (measured by a four-probe resistivity meter) and a tensile strength within a range of 80 to 200MPa (measured by a nanotensile tester).

[0091] The technical features of the above-described embodiments may be combined arbitrarily. For brevity of description, all possible combinations of the technical features in the above embodiments are not described. However, as long as there is no contradiction in the combination of these technical features, it should be considered within the scope of this specification.

[0092] The above-mentioned embodiments merely represent several embodiments of the present invention, and the description thereof is more specific and detailed, but it should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention. It should be noted that, for those skilled in the art, several variations and improvements may be made without departing from the concept of the present invention, and these are all within the protection scope of the present invention. Therefore, the scope of protection of the present invention shall be subject to the appended claims.


Claims

1. A carbon nanotube preparation system, comprising:

a pre-growth tube, for an early pre-reaction of raw materials before generation of carbon nanotubes;

an atomizer, for atomizing the carbon nanotube raw materials and then spraying the atomized raw materials into the pre-growth tube; the atomizer is provided at the front end of the pre-growth tube, and has a spray output tube that extends into the pre-growth tube;

a growth tube, for generating carbon nanotubes and continuous growth of the generated carbon nanotubes; the front end of the growth tube is hermetically connected to the rear end of the pre-growth tube; and

an air curtain generator, for forming an air curtain enclosing an atomizing air flow around the outlet of the spray output tube, and the air curtain extends parallel to the extension direction of the pre-growth tube; the air curtain generator is provided inside the pre-growth tube.


 
2. The carbon nanotube preparation system of claim 1, wherein
the air curtain generator comprises at least one air curtain forming plate which is provided with a plurality of air holes.
 
3. The carbon nanotube preparation system of claim 2, wherein
the air curtain forming plate has a ring shape, and the spray output tube is located at the hollow center of the air curtain forming plate; the air holes are radially distributed on the air curtain forming plate.
 
4. The carbon nanotube preparation system of claim 2 or 3, wherein
the edge contour of the air curtain forming plate matches the inner wall of the pre-growth tube, at least part of the air holes are located in the edge area of the air curtain forming plate so as to form an air curtain flow clung to the inner wall of the pre-growth tube.
 
5. The carbon nanotube preparation system of claim 2 or 3, wherein
the air curtain generator further comprises at least one air inlet for inputting carrier gas into the pre-growth tube, and the air inlet is located at the front end of the pre-growth tube.
 
6. The carbon nanotube preparation system of any one of claim 1 to 3, wherein the pre-growth tube is connected with the growth tube by a tubular first heat-insulating element.
 
7. The carbon nanotube preparation system of claim 6, wherein
the temperature inside the pre-growth tube is within a range of 200 to 950°C; and
the temperature inside the growth tube is within a range of 1100 to 1600°C.
 
8. The carbon nanotube preparation system of any one of claim 1 to 3, wherein
the pre-growth tube comprises a first pre-growth segment and a second pre-growth segment;
the first pre-growth segment is close to the front end of the pre-growth tube, and the second pre-growth segment is close to the rear end of the pre-growth tube; and
the temperature inside the first pre-growth segment is different from that inside the second pre-growth segment.
 
9. The carbon nanotube preparation system of claim 8, wherein
a first temperature controller is provided outside the first pre-growth segment, and a second temperature controller is provided outside the second pre-growth segment; and
the first pre-growth segment is connected with the second pre-growth segment by a second heat-insulating element.
 
10. The carbon nanotube preparation system of claim 9, wherein
the first temperature controller comprises a first heating unit and a first cooling unit; and
the second temperature controller comprises a second heating unit and a second cooling unit.
 
11. The carbon nanotube preparation system of claim 8, wherein
the temperature inside the first pre-growth segment is within a range of 200 to 300 °C; and
the temperature inside the second pre-growth segment is within a range of 700 to 950 °C.
 
12. The carbon nanotube preparation system of any one of claim 1 to 3, wherein
the inner wall of the growth tube is provided with an anti-sticking coating for preventing the nano-material from attaching on the inner wall of the growth tube.
 
13. The carbon nanotube preparation system of claim 12, wherein
the anti-sticking coating is zirconium oxide or zinc oxide.
 
14. The carbon nanotube preparation system of any one of claim 1 to 3, wherein
the growth tube is provided with vent holes for passing a carrier gas to form a gas protective layer on the inner wall surface of the growth tube, and the vent hole penetrate the wall of the growth tube and are evenly distributed.
 
15. The carbon nanotube preparation system of claim 14, wherein
an included angle between the axial direction of the vent hole and the extending direction of the growth tube is less than 5 degrees.
 
16. The carbon nanotube preparation system of any one of claim 1 to 3, wherein
the atomizer includes an ultrasonic atomizing nozzle for uniformly mixing atomizing and then spraying the raw materials, and an ultrasonic controller for adjusting an ultrasonic value.
 
17. The carbon nanotube preparation system of any one of claim 1 to 3, wherein
the nano-material synthesis system is vertical or horizontal.
 
18. The carbon nanotube preparation system of claim 17, wherein
the pre-growth tube and the growth tube are provided vertically, the atomizer is provided vertically along the extending direction of the pre-growth tube and the growth tube.
 
19. The carbon nanotube preparation system of claim 18, wherein
the air curtain is distributed parallel along the direction of gravity.
 




Drawing