Carbon Nanotubes (CNT) are a new type of carbon structure material that has a microscopic appearance as a coaxial round tube with the tube wall composed of several layers of carbon atoms formed in a regular hexagonal structure.
Moreover, the most prominent structural feature of CNT is that they are formed by curling a single layer or multiple layers of graphite sheets around the same centre.
Most importantly, the hexagonal carbon physical structure and chemical bonds give it unique mechanical, electrical, thermal, and chemical properties so that it can be widely used in many fields.
Based on the number of layers, CNT are divided into single-wall CNT (“SWCNT”), and multi-wall CNT (“MWCNT”).
Principal Processing Methods
Firstly, CNT production is commonly divided into two parts, namely CNT powder production and paste mixing. Mainstream CNT powder production methods include the arc discharge method, laser evaporation synthesis method, chemical vapor deposition (“CVD”) method, and catalytic thermal decomposition method.
CNT substitution, market penetration and technological breakthrough has occurred with lower pricing of CNT conductive agent material. Due to the widespread use of CNT conductive agents by Chinese lithium-ion battery manufacturers, the overall adoption rate of CNT conductive agent has increased from 13% in 2014 up to 31% in 2018. In 2018, the global CNT conductive paste market shipments reached approximately 34,400 tonnes, a year-on-year increase of 25.9%. China’s CNT conductive paste market shipments were 32,500 tonnes (including CNT/graphene composite paste), accounting for a 94% market share.
From a global perspective, decarbonisation and electrification of new energy vehicles will become a comprehensive consensus. Therefore, global demand for lithium batteries applicable for EV will maintain a rapid growth trend over the next few years. It is estimated that by 2023, the global production of new energy vehicles will reach 8.87 million.
Moreover, the conductive agent market is strongly driven by growth of the EV automobile industry supply chain. It is estimated that by 2023, global market share of CNT conductive paste in the EV space will reach 82.2%. The demand for CNT conductive paste for EV-Type LiB in China alone will exceed 100,000 tonnes. It is estimated that by 2023, the global market value of CNT conductive paste for EV-Type LiB will exceed US$685M.
As smart phones, wearable devices, and drones all have high electrical conductivity performance requirements for their lithium batteries, the market share of CNT conductive paste in the field of 3C digital batteries is expected to show a steady growth trend in the future. Moreover, it is estimated that in 2023, the market share of CNT conductive paste in lithium batteries reached 31.9%.
Market Size Potential
It is estimated by 2023, global demand for CNT conductive paste market for lithium battery application will reach US$107M.
Due to excellent conductivity properties, CNT is applied as a plastic additive to make conductive plastics, a functional polymer material. Furthermore, CNT powder is first processed into a conductive masterbatch, matched to a base material, followed by adding it to plastics.
Global conductive plastic output value has grown steadily since 2006. Of which, in 2018, global conductive plastic production was 240,000 tonnes and global conductive masterbatch production was 30,000 tonnes. Furthermore, due to the gradual diversification of the application range of conductive plastics in recent years, the growth rate of the demand for conductive masterbatch continues to be higher than the growth rate of production capacity.
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