STTR Phase I: Conversion of Enhanced Copper Foils to Wire Forms

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014

$225K

Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

NanoRidge Materials
2315 Schlumberger St.
Houston, TX 77023
Principal Investigator, Firm POC

Research Institution

Ohio University
108 Cutler Hl
Athens, OH 45701

Abstract

This Small Business Technology Transfer Phase I project will substantially advance 1) approaches to combine carbon nanotubes (CNT) into metal matrices, 2) processes to convert copper/CNT composites into wire while preserving CNT integrity, 3) methods to induce CNT alignment during either nanocomposite production or extrusion in order to optimize electrical conductivity, and 4) process control to ensure that the technology can be scaled to industrially-relevant volumes. The largest challenge in this proposed research is understanding the role of CNT alignment as it pertains to electrical conductivity and controlling the alignment to produce the desired results. The research objectives seek to solve that challenge through inducing CNT alignment during the Cu/CNT production and also during the subsequent extrusion into wire. The anticipated results are 1) a Cu/CNT wire that exhibits an electrical resistivity of 1.30 x 10-6 Ohm.cm (100% IACS - 1.68 x 10-6 Ohm.cm) @ 20 deg C, and 2) a well-defined process that can consistently produce that performance at industrial volumes. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project includes the development of a copper conductor with superior electrical performance which will have significant commercial and societal value. Copper is the world?s most widely used electrical conductor, consuming approximately twenty-five billion pounds of copper annually. However, no significant improvement in the electrical performance of copper has been realized since the International Annealed Copper Standard (IACS) established the electrical resistivity to be 1.68 x 10-6 Ohm.cm in 1913. The benefits of an enhanced copper conductor will be most highly valued in applications requiring increased electrical conductivity, current capacity, thermal conductivity, and tensile strength. Key markets for early adoption of this technology include electrical transmission, electric motors, transformer windings, subsea oil and gas, electronics, and aerospace. In total, the estimated market potential for the Cu/CNT wire product enabled by this research is on the order of two billion pounds per year. It is for these reasons that the International Copper Association describes the output of this project as "an advanced copper-carbon nanocomposite material that would truly have a transformative effect on a broad area of technology and would be of immense benefit to society".