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IPutThisUsernameHere t1_j96824j wrote

Neat. Now prove it works at scale and can turn a healthy profit.


Beyond-Time t1_j96i0m5 wrote

I mean, this is basically the only comment needed here. Same with the monthly battery revolutionizing technology discovered that goes nowhere.


PO0tyTng t1_j96oi5s wrote

From the article: > The plastic, which does not need to be sorted or washed as in traditional recycling, is “flashed” at temperatures over 3,100 kelvins (about 5,120 degrees Fahrenheit). “All we do is grind the material into small, confetti-sized pieces, add a bit of iron and mix in a small amount of a different carbon — say, charcoal — for conductivity,” Wyss said.

Sounds pretty damn scalable to me.


Herbert-Quain t1_j96pd0m wrote

>temperatures over 3,100 kelvins

How are commercial procedures less energy-efficient than that?!


IPutThisUsernameHere t1_j96ptw9 wrote

For additional context, steel melts at about 2,500 F - less than half the temperature cited in this process.


PO0tyTng t1_j96t56j wrote

It’s not like nanotubes need to be made in 1000 gallon cauldrons. I would think we would need far less material than raw/smelted steel. So it could be made in a kiln or something. Honestly though the amount of heat needed is not a hurdle in scaling this up.

Really manually intensive /precise processes like making a sheet of graphene have soooo many more barriers to scaling than simply “apply more heat”


ReasonablyBadass t1_j99eja2 wrote

Efficiency has nothing to do with how much energy you need. It's about the ration between resource use and end product.

If other processes need less heat but produce a lot of unusable waste, they are less efficient.

Edit: also,flashing, afaik, means for only a very short amount of time. Might not be all that mich energy overall, actually


Telewyn t1_j9779bx wrote

So, useless for everything then? This will make tiny nanotubes that can't even be woven together, won't it?


Peantoo t1_j98n6l3 wrote

Well to be fair, the act of weaving is specifically for making tiny strips into long ropes. Maybe they just need a super small weaver?

Also, carbon nanotubes have utility beyond being cables.


axonxorz t1_j98pbqk wrote

And multiple uses as cable. Woven into cohesive fibres that are further woven into fabric or "rope"/cable, the traditional usage. Extremely low electrical resistance means collercial scale production could lead to lower cost conductors for megavolt-scale transmission


Skyrmir t1_j993oth wrote

The short strands are used for surface coatings, and showed a lot of novel electronic properties that just weren't useful because of material costs.

We'd all like an easy answer for a space elevator, but faster, cheaper, or more efficient, electronics is always a bonus.


Ripberger7 t1_j976v4k wrote

Well then they should stop writing white papers and start soliciting investors.


danielravennest t1_j96qcpp wrote

This is the wrong place to be looking for engineering and production level products. This is r/science, so what we get is lab results.

If you want Battery Tech or Solar Tech you want to be looking at industry-oriented websites.


Rrraou t1_j96xtt0 wrote

> discovered that goes nowhere.

Or, by the time it gets where it's going it's become normal and doesn't feel as special.


Beyond-Time t1_j970pgd wrote

Perhaps. I've grown tired of every revolutionary technology disappearing because it's too expensive, material intense, or impractical. I tend to forget that yes, some do, in fact, make it into production devices.


Darkdoomwewew t1_j97567d wrote

And some come back around down the line as we make advances in materials and processes. Progress is progress.


mdielmann t1_j98o7kb wrote

Thos is how research works. People have an idea. They do a lot of testing, and figure out a process that works. They say, "Hey, check out what we did!" Someone else, who was looking at something else, perhaps in a completely different field, learns about this and it leads to some practical advance in the world at large. Kind of like seeing salt making frog legs jump leading to lithium ion batteries.


KevinFlantier t1_j99xmvn wrote

> Same with the monthly battery revolutionizing technology discovered that goes nowhere.

Then again this is always a very slow process. Any kind of battery breakthrough (assuming it's not bogus to make headlines) takes at least a decade to find its way to the consumer market.

So of course you're gonna hear about this revolutionary new thing on paper, then never hear about it ever again, and by the time it's available on the market -probably quietly- then the rest of the industry has also made many other improvements to the point that it's not the huge leap that was promised but more of a "hey the battery on this phone charges faster than on my older one... I think"


chemdude1414 t1_j990f2m wrote

The tech is being used by a company called Universal Matter - they just reached a milestone of being able to produce 1 ton of graphene a day at 35$ a ton from mixed plastic waste. Their commercial scale plant is being built now.

It does use a lot of energy, however, it takes only a few microseconds to reach the temperature needed to convert the mixed waste to graphene. Tbh, it’s pretty revolutionary technology. It extends way further than just making strong materials. It can be used for soil enrichment, isolation of rare minerals, and almost (most importantly) converting coal ash (highly toxic) to inert materials. All at a profit. It’s sad that everything has to operate on a scale of “profitability”, but the Tour group has cracked the code!


talontario t1_j99ml7e wrote

what is that $35 covering? the material, material and power cost or running the full factory/lab?


chemdude1414 t1_j9ae036 wrote

As far as I know, it’s the average cost of electricity required for the flash plus a few other components. At scale and overtime it will pay for the construction materials. With the product being sold at a profit, that would help to pay for wages, etc.

But I think one hugely overlooked item is that that vast majority of their materials will be … free. waste is already waste, and given that recycling is costly and time consuming, this will be a cheaper option. If anything companies will begin to pay to have their waste turned into graphene. So in terms of raw materials, their expenditure is nearly nothing.

This article is okay at covering some of the fundamentals (e. g. The actual published work in the journal) but not super great at looking at the wider picture.


PoopIsAlwaysSunny t1_j96kxt5 wrote

If it works at scale it seems like it would have to be able to turn a profit. Energy costs way lower and they’re using waste products that we have piled mountains of in recycling facilities.


Peantoo t1_j98nbbz wrote

Like someone said, this is r/science, not r/futurism or something. This is science and is fine the way it is.


iam666 t1_j97087n wrote

This is a cool paper, but it’s title is somewhat misleading. The process they use does create carbon nanotubes (CNT), but it creates them in a very messy mixture of other nano-structured carbon. Their material surpasses other CNT production methods because most CNT researchers aren’t looking for physical properties like tensile strength. CNTs do have really good physical properties in polymer composites, but that’s a pretty underwhelming application for them. The article here even lists applications for CNTs that do not apply to this mixture, which is pretty misleading.

The layman’s TLDR for this paper is “we found that if you process waste plastic in this way, you can reinforce other plastic with it to make it even stronger.”


Alastor_Hawking t1_j994xyh wrote

Yeah CNTs vary quite a bit by size, quality and strength, and they have found CNTs in unprocessed diesel exhaust, so finding them in super heated plastic wasn’t a big shock to me. They can turn plastic junk into plastic junk with some nanotubes, which is cool, but not a marketable application yet, as some on this thread hope.


iam666 t1_j998qdm wrote

Yeah but making this meso-structured carbon is still a very effective way to improve material properties, and seems to be a better alternative to carbon fiber rather than carbon nanotubes.


jonesaffrou t1_j994q3a wrote

Isn't the new Airbus made from CNTs instead of usual aluminum alloy? Which gave the plain a huuge edge. It def has potential in aviation.


iam666 t1_j998cpc wrote

I’m not sure, it may just be “carbon fiber”, which is much more common and easier to produce since it’s only micro-structured and not nano-. This material seems like it would be good in that application, though.


colorblood t1_j99gfip wrote

It’s probably made with carbon composites but carbon nanotubes are yet to be used in large scale construction. Aerospace is very conservative on materials especially when it means passenger safety.


My_Body_The_Mystery t1_j969ldi wrote

Plastic producers and users have to be put on the hotplate about only producing recyclable plastics. Also plastics should be easily categorized. Any type of waste plastics is always a huge mish-mash of different kinds (and deemed contaminated) plastics that cant be recyclable. That's the biggest problem with all of these new ways of recycling that needs to be addressed first


Xicadarksoul t1_j96gdmn wrote

>Also plastics should be easily categorized.

They in fact are.

You can use cheap-ish near infrared spectography to tell em apart.


Really the issue is how ridiclously cheap it is to "mine" the base mineral (oil), making it utterly uneconomical to recycle even when its technologically feasible.


My_Body_The_Mystery t1_j96pq7b wrote

I agree. All plastics have that little recycling label on the bottom. Easy peasy!!! Then why are we shipping crate after crate to developing countries. It's because the plastics are not seperatable. There are so many variations. (We can recycle the white plastic but not the black plastic take out containers) The lables the food residue. The contamination. The logistics should be hammmered out by the manufacturers in the first place instead of just printing the recyclable label then rejecting it whne its done


DinoHunter64 t1_j96r57p wrote

No, no, that's not the major problem here. The major problem is that plastic is more or less an indirect byproduct of refining crude oil, so it will always be cheaper to produce new plastic than it is to recycle it. Unless we cut back on our other uses of oil, this will likely never be solved. Hell, we should really be abandoning the use of many plastics due to the microplastic issue, but it's effectively too late for that.


Iceykitsune2 t1_j970rdl wrote

>Plastic producers and users have to be put on the hotplate

individual action was conceived by the plastic industry.


[deleted] t1_j96ltd9 wrote

To be honest, in the same way trees were once not biodegradable, I feel like we could probably just wait out the whole trash thing.


alexwasashrimp t1_j96nqtt wrote

It took life quite a while to find a way to consume dead trees. Are you sure we have that much time?


[deleted] t1_j96od75 wrote

I don't anticipate plastic waste to cause any kind of significant effect on human population anytime soon.


noodle06 t1_j9708aq wrote

Can't wait to never hear from this technology again my life.

How is the plastic-eating microorganism doing by the way?


Wagamaga OP t1_j9653lz wrote

The amount of plastic waste produced globally has doubled over the past two decades — and plastic production is expected to triple by 2050 — with most of it ending up in landfills, incinerated or otherwise mismanaged, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Some estimates suggest only 5% is actually being recycled.

“Waste plastic is rarely recycled because it costs a lot of money to do all the washing, sorting and melting down of the plastics to turn it into a material that can be used by a factory,” said Kevin Wyss, a Rice graduate student and lead author on a study published in Advanced Materials that describes how he and colleagues inthe lab of chemist James Tour used their flash Joule heating technique to turn plastic into valuable carbon nanotubes and hybrid nanomaterials.

“We were able to make a hybrid carbon nanomaterial that outperformed both graphene and commercially available carbon nanotubes,” Wyss said.


maybeCheri t1_j97nthc wrote

It’s things like this that make me believe that the next generations will fix what us Boomers screwed up.


Peantoo t1_j98o4jq wrote

You'll probably be dead long before you get a chance to be disappointed, so at least there's that.


AuralSculpture t1_j9866bz wrote

When you say “ours” in a title, be assured it’s a press release designed as a paper.


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icestationlemur t1_j97iyw3 wrote

Can we make straws out of carbon nanotubes?


anonanon1313 t1_j9a8fv3 wrote

2 concerns, even if this proves viable: What if virgin materials work better or are cheaper? What if after churning out CNTs by the megaton we discover they're an even worse form of pollution than plastic?


lizziegal79 t1_j9ahzxx wrote

And will be rejected because it’s too efficient.


The-Incredible-Lurk t1_j970i7f wrote


My idea for manufactured arctic land masses could be feasible! (Would have to be considered international land and nature reserve to avoid property grabs)

My crack sci fi idea: If we can create a non-reactive carbon material that can be used as a skeleton lattice we could encourage ice growth in the coldest regions of the sea and create more white reflective surfaces to bounce off heat radiation from the atmosphere - dampening the heat transfer and potentially delaying warming.

Probably a terrible idea, but this is the first applied science that lends itself to the idea!


Dreidhen t1_j969wzj wrote

When is '... can do everything but leave the lab...' gonna be true false ^thanksforthefix of these things


Beliriel t1_j96gd79 wrote

You mean false. Because the statement is true.


Dreidhen t1_j96hccd wrote

Brain burp, heh. Thanks for the correction


[deleted] t1_j96m2kk wrote

When someone has a product in a means to produce it that requires these things at scale. Because it's pretty much the only big incentive system the world has is the economic one