Honda Makes Breakthrough with Carbon Nanotube Development

Types of nanotubes 3D model
Types of nanotubes 3D model

Opens new potential in electronics

Honda has been working on a new technology that could lead to a breakthrough in vehicle development.  Initial research by the firm, joined with scientists at Purdue University and the University of Louisville, has shown that microscopic carbon nanotubes may be capable of distributing electricty quicker and more efficiently.

The nanotubes may also be used to create a material that is at least as light as carbon fiber, but stronger than steel.

Researchers currently grow the carbon nanotubes on metal nanoparticles.  The carbon nanotubes form "rolled honeycomb sheets with carbon atoms" at the ends.  The initial research has shown that the nanotubes are 100,000 times thinner than strands of human hair. "When these tiny carbon nanotubes exhibit metallic conductivity they possess extraordinary strength compared to steel, higher electrical properties than copper, are as efficient in conducting heat as a diamond and are as light as cotton," according to a press release.

Honda forsees the new technology affecting the production of batteries, cables, fuel cells, and solar cells, which could lead to more efficient vehicles.  They also believe the findings could lead to advancements in artificial muscles, robotics, and supercapacitors, to name a few.

"Our goal is not only the creation of new and better technologies and products, but to fulfill Honda's commitment to environment sustainability," wrote Honda Research Institute USA project director Dr. Hideaki Tsuru.

Please see press release below for further details.

Published Oct 9th, 2009 9:24pm By Zack Newmark


Microscopic carbon nanotubes a hundred thousand times thinner than a human hair may have the potential to transport electricity faster and over greater distances with minimal loss of energy, according to new research that will be published today in Science magazine.

The research was led by Honda Research Institute USA, Inc., in conjunction with researchers at Purdue University and the University of Louisville.

The findings open new possibilities for miniaturisation and energy efficiency, including much more powerful and compact computers, electrodes for supercapacitors, electrical cables, batteries, solar cells, fuel cells, artificial muscles, composite material for automobiles and planes, energy storage materials and electronics for hybrid vehicles.

Microscopic carbon nanotubes are grown on the surface of metal nanoparticles, taking the cylindrical form of rolled honeycomb sheets with carbon atoms in their tips. When these tiny carbon nanotubes exhibit metallic conductivity they possess extraordinary strength compared to steel, higher electrical properties than copper, are as efficient in conducting heat as a diamond and are as light as cotton.

"Our goal is not only the creation of new and better technologies and products, but to fulfill Honda's commitment to environment sustainability," said Dr. Hideaki Tsuru, project director from Honda Research Institute USA.

Past research efforts to control the structural formation of carbon nanotubes with metallic conductivity through conventional methodology resulted in a success rate of approximately 25 - 50 per cent. Honda has worked in the field of carbon nanotube synthesis for almost a decade, and has achieved a success rate of 91 per cent metallic conductivity.

"This is the first report that shows we can control fairly systematically whether carbon nanotubes achieve a metallic state. Further research is in progress with the ultimate goal to take complete control over grown nanotube configurations to support their real world application," said Dr. Avetik Harutyunyan, principal scientist from Honda Research Institute USA, and the leader of the project.

"Our finding shows that the nanotube configuration which defines its conductivity depends not only on the size of the metal nanocatalyst used to nucleate the tube as was previously believed, but importantly also is based on its shape and crystallographic structure, and we learned to control it," said Dr. Harutyunyan, whose team of Honda scientists included Dr. Gugang Chen and Dr. Elena Pigos.

"We are excited about our teamwork and collaborations with researchers at Purdue and Louisville, who helped achieve this advance," he said. Researchers at Purdue, led by Professor Eric Stach, used a transmission electron microscope to observe nanotube formation, revealing that changes in the gaseous environment can vary the shape of the metal catalyst nanoparticles from very sharp faceted to completely round. Researchers at Louisville, led by Professor Gamini Sumanasekera, produced the nanotubes in larger volumes and made careful measurements to determine whether the nanotubes achieve a metallic state.

Honda's innovative research and development efforts during the past decade have yielded diverse innovations such as humanoid robotics, walking assist devices, the HondaJet, fuel cell technology, increased rice crop yields, and thin film solar cells, in addition to the design and development of automobiles, motorcycles and power equipment products.

Honda has conducted consumer product related R&D in the United States since 1975 at Honda R&D Americas, Inc. For the purpose of researching future technologies, in January 2003, Honda Research Institute USA, Inc. (HRI-US) was founded along with HRI-EU (Europe) and HRI-JP (Japan). U.S. offices are located in California, Ohio and Massachusetts and include a computer science research division focused on human intelligence technologies and a materials science research division focused on functional nano-materials.


Add comment

subscribe to comments
comment rules Add comment

Comments (18)

holmstar holmstar
Carbon nanotubes have been around for quite a while. The story here is that Honda has come up with a process to manufacture nanotubes that have a uniform and high (metallic) conductivity. This means that they could be used in things like fuel cells, solar cells, ridiculously strong but light electrical cables, etc.
Oct 17th, 2009 12:20am
0 0
MadMaTTer MadMaTTer
i dont think this is HONDA technology, i believe it was Nanocomp who intriduced this to military aircraft, they have been playing around with this on military aircraft but as far as i know the first contract was awarded early 2008 for wires made from CNT. BAVARIANMS: the proof you want can be found in Aerospace engineering and manufacturing magazine. dont remember the month though.
Oct 15th, 2009 6:33am
0 0
fusion01 fusion01
'may be capable of distributing electricty quicker and more efficiently.' but will they help an author with spelling? Nope.
Oct 12th, 2009 10:44pm
0 0
trekkerbin trekkerbin
That is definitely going to make a difference in lots of things. And save a lot of energy that goes to waste. Go for it HONDA!!!!
Oct 11th, 2009 3:47am
0 0
alessandro alessandro
The structure how atoms are placed reminds the graphite, but appears as an isomeric replacement of it. Amazing, only one layer!? Nanotubes are idea with decade of history, it is true.
Oct 11th, 2009 12:35am
0 0
cosmin_i cosmin_i
At least some one*s thinking ahead
Oct 10th, 2009 8:18am
0 0
benz_man benz_man
This is an old concept. Maybe its closer to mass production now, but gov agencies have been privy to this tech for close to a decade now. Hmmmm, go figure...
Oct 10th, 2009 6:23am
0 0
BavarianMS BavarianMS
I don't think so.. Provide proof if you can.
Oct 10th, 2009 8:12am
0 0
Bremen_Koenigsegg Bremen_Koenigsegg
He's right, carbon nanotubing is nothing new. One of the original purposes of nanotubes was to quicken the delivery of a dose of medication to patients, or something like that. I know it's been around for a while, but, like all these sorts of technologies (fusion, ceramics, and other wickedly advanced technologies), it's one thing to show something is technically possible, and completely another to make it economically viable.
Oct 10th, 2009 8:51am
0 0
archytype archytype
This may prove useful in an electrified NASCAR vehicle, or shed 2-3lbs from every new vehicle via lighter battery packs. Could this make a better tennis racket or would it kill a pacemaker?
Oct 10th, 2009 5:27am
0 0
trinity trinity
Nice idea Honda. I hope they can make it cost efficient. The big thing would be if they can make batteries from it which make electric cars work...
Oct 10th, 2009 4:56am
0 0
Douglas6250 Douglas6250
This is absolutely fantastic. However, they would be horribly expensive. Anyway, I support Honda to continue to build and design more environmentally friendly and efficient vehicles to save our planet !!
Oct 10th, 2009 4:13am
0 0
Kepe Kepe
New technology is always expensive, but as the production ramps up the prices go down.
Oct 12th, 2009 2:09am
0 0
scratchy996 scratchy996
yeah , but can those nanotubes make pancakes ?
Oct 10th, 2009 3:14am
0 0
TheAlchemist TheAlchemist
after they get put into Asimo, he will.
Oct 13th, 2009 9:05am
0 0
dbehmoaras dbehmoaras
Definitely worth the read. Absolutely brilliant technology. This reminds me of the memory cloth from Batman LOL. But this could really change a lot for the better.
Oct 10th, 2009 3:09am
0 0
orlandocroccia orlandocroccia
It feels good to read news like this!
Oct 10th, 2009 3:06am
0 0
Deuce_Coop Deuce_Coop
That is amazing.
Oct 10th, 2009 2:40am
0 0