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Carbon Nanomaterials from Waste Plastics

Technology Overview

The technology for conversion of plastic waste into carbon nanomaterials, such as carbon nanotubes, has the potential to increase profit margin in chemical recycling of plastics. Carbon nanotubes are a high-performance additive that were found to significantly improve properties of various materials. For instance, they can be used to manufacture light weight and mechanically strong plastics, powerful batteries and smart textiles.

The proposed technology is an add-on chemical process to conventional plastic pyrolysis plants. At pyrolysis plant, plastic waste (mainly PE and PP) is first decomposed at high temperature, resulting in pyrolysis oil and industrial gases. To produce carbon nanotubes, a reactor containing a catalyst is connected to the pyrolysis unit. The catalyst is able to convert industrial gases into carbon nanotubes and combustible gas containing 30-40% hydrogen.

The advantage of producing carbon nanotubes on top of pyrolysis oil is the high carbon nanotube price. Furthermore, the process allows to process industrial gases into solid carbon, thus, avoiding carbon emissions. Depending on plastic feedstock quality, a tonne of plastic waste can be used to produce approx. 100 kg of carbon nanotubes.

The technology owner is seeking collaboration with industry partners for seed and start-up financing or technology licensing.

Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages

There are three parts of the carbon nanotube manufacturing process. Carbon nanotube synthesis – this is a process for the conversion of waste plastics into carbon nanotubes and control of main product characteristics. In the next step, the purification of carbon nanotubes is carried out. During this process, metal catalyst that is used for carbon nanotubes synthesis is removed from the obtained product. Finally, the purified carbon nanotubes undergo a modification process to make them suitable for dispersion in solvents and polymer resins. Often, synthesis of carbon nanotubes is carried out successfully, but purification and modification are overlooked. As a result, carbon nanotubes with low quality are obtained that are not suitable for most of applications (like, for instance, for battery manufacturing). In our case, all three aspects of carbon nanotube manufacturing can be thoroughly controlled to guarantee high product quality.

Potential Applications

This technology is applicable for upgrading plastic pyrolysis plants to produce a new product in addition to conventional pyrolysis oil.

Customer Benefit

  • Increased profit margin of plastic waste treatment.
  • Carbon capture from plastic pyrolysis gas and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Contact Person

Andrei Veksha


NTU - NTUitive >> Water - Energy - Waste

Technology Category

  • Waste Management & Recycling

Technology Readiness Level


conversion of plastic waste into carbon nanomaterials