Industrial Scale Synthesis of Carbon Nanotubes Via Fluidized Bed Chemical Vapor Deposition: A Senior Design Project


  • York R. Smith University of Nevada
  • Alan Fuchs University of Nevada
  • M. Meyyappan Center for Nanotechnology, NASA Ames Research Center


Senior year chemical engineering students designed a process to produce 10 000 tonnes per annum of single wall carbon nanotubes (SWNT) and also conducted bench-top experiments to synthesize SWNTs via fluidized bed chemical vapor deposition techniques. This was an excellent pedagogical experience because it related to the type of real world design issues which are of relevance for commercial applications as well as for NASA. The experiments resulted in carbon nanotubes which were characterized using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Detailed reactor design was carried out for large-scale production of SWNTs as well as an economic analysis.

Author Biographies

York R. Smith, University of Nevada

York R. Smith recently graduated from the undergraduate chemical engineering program at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is currently a research assistant within the department where his research interests are synthesis of nano-structured metal and mixed metal oxides for photocatalytic and photovoltaic applications along with designing and engineering alternative energy systems.

Alan Fuchs, University of Nevada

Alan Fuchs is an associate professor of chemical engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. He teaches the Capstone Senior Design Class, Separations Processes, and Polymer Science and Engineering. His research is in new polymer materials.

M. Meyyappan, Center for Nanotechnology, NASA Ames Research Center

M. Meyyappan is chief scientist for exploration technology at NASA Ames Research Center. His research interests include carbon nanotubes and inorganic nanowires and their applications. He has published more than 170 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He is a Fellow of MRS, ECS, AVS, and IEEE and a member of AIChE. For his contributions to nanotechnology he has received numerous awards and for his contributions to education he has received awards from IEEE and NASA.