Carbon Nanotubes in Your Future?

Discussion in 'Materials' started by Chris Ostlind, May 13, 2009.

  1. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Nanotube technology has been around for some time now in various experimental forms. The product has looked interesting ever since it was first announced, but there were hoops through which develoipers needed to jump.

    Just announced, a new power boat will be built from nanotube prepreg and according to the company behind it all, this new machine will save 75% of the weight of a trad fiberglass boat and 33% less weight than a conventional carbon fiber design of the same length.


    The implications across the board for boat design are enormous.

    The real story rotates around the cost effectiveness of the nanotube product itself. If it can compete, head-up, with the carbon fiber materials that have grown to be widely used already, then we might just be standing at the threshold of a whole new level of design in the boating world.

    Here's the company's website:

    Here's the link to the page with the info on the new boat:

    These same guys also produce a nanotube enhanced epoxy called, Epovex.

    All the usual disclaimers about being involved with the company and/or shilling for the industry.


    Attached Files:

  2. marshmat
    Joined: Apr 2005
    Posts: 4,127
    Likes: 149, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 2043
    Location: Ontario

    marshmat Senior Member

    Interesting, indeed.

    More about their technology (warning, physics/chemistry degree needed):

    Now, there's an important point here that is not readily apparent from the press releases: Arovex prepreg is not quite what people often seem to think it is.

    There seems to be a perception that the current crop of "carbon nanotube" materials seen in bikes, tennis racquets and now boats actually use nanotubes in place of the normal carbon fibre. They do not.

    Arovex prepreg, like all current "nano-enhanced" carbon materials, does not contain any long fibres of nanotubes. The base cloth is conventional carbon- or, in some cases, aramid or E-glass. The nanotubes are very short- too short to see with the naked eye- and account for only a very tiny fraction of the overall laminate.

    Zyvex's contribution, as far as I know, has been the development of the chemistry needed to get predictable bonding between the nanotubes and the polymer matrix. The nanotubes are actually part of the resin- they're conjugated with a (proprietary) molecule that bonds well to both the nanotube and the resin, and blended in with the liquid resin. When it sets, they help to carry stresses through the polymer matrix. This is where the gains in strength over a conventional carbon laminate come from.

    It's an interesting development, to be sure. I'm curious how it will play out in economic terms, especially given the large capital investment (pressure ovens, high-temp moulds, etc.) needed to make full use of prepreg composite technology.

    If we ever do figure out how to make nanotube fibre, now that will be a really huge step forward. Theoretically, pure SWNT fibre would have an ultimate tensile strength of 60 to 120 GPa- fifty to a hundred times more than high-quality steel of the same dimensions, and ten to twenty times more than current PAN or pitch-derived carbon fibre. A steel cable a metre in diameter could be replaced by something the size of your arm.
    Skyak likes this.
  3. Ad Hoc
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 7,129
    Likes: 1,070, Points: 113, Legacy Rep: 2488
    Location: Japan

    Ad Hoc Naval Architect


    A friend of mine is also using carbon nanotubes ona project, i'm also waiting to see how it fairs up when the boat is in the water and if all the claims of the product can be realised too.

    "...Theoretically, pure SWNT fibre would have an ultimate tensile strength of 60 to 120 GPa- fifty to a hundred times more than high-quality steel .."

    Well, just as with carbon there is also tetra-steel...just as potentially mind boggling. There is research regarding tetra-steel for making "lifts" that replace conventional methods of getting into low earth orbit. Tetra-steel has values in the high GPa's too.
  4. bistros

    bistros Previous Member


    A friend of mine is an industrial designer - he was telling me the other day about plastic/carbon sheet products he's seen where you can heat form the plastic sheet and then once in shape epoxy the carbon side for stiffness. He designs a lot of sports equipment and thought this may be an idea for a boat like the Cabrillo - basically using a plastic style molding process to establish shape and then achieving stiffness and longevity.

    He was going to investigate further, but he felt parts rendered this was would be under glass weight and slightly above molded carbon parts.

  5. Mat77
    Joined: Jun 2018
    Posts: 1
    Likes: 0, Points: 1
    Location: Prague

    Mat77 New Member

    Sadly the developement in the area is not so fast as I would hope. However there are already whole companies going strong in tailoring nano materials for other industries. I really hope to see that hull of carbon nanotubes yet. :) There was also some ideal for graphene sails. :)
  6. upchurchmr
    Joined: Feb 2011
    Posts: 3,249
    Likes: 234, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 579
    Location: Ft. Worth, Tx, USA

    upchurchmr Senior Member

    Wildly optimistic claims as usual.
    But real developments are possible - with a lots of money.

    Don't hold your breath.
  7. Angélique
    Joined: Feb 2009
    Posts: 3,003
    Likes: 331, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1632
    Location: Belgium ⇄ The Netherlands

    Angélique aka Angel (only by name)

    The thread is over nine years old, I'd hoped the future would have been started by now . . :)

  8. upchurchmr
    Joined: Feb 2011
    Posts: 3,249
    Likes: 234, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 579
    Location: Ft. Worth, Tx, USA

    upchurchmr Senior Member

    I should have checked.
    My last contact with aerospace and this subject was 2 years ago. They still thought nothing of significance had actually been accomplished.
    Meaning there might be some niche applications, but not anything general.
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.