A scientist from South Korea has reportedly developed economically viable breakthrough technology for reinforcing metal matrix composites with single wall carbon nanotubes.

For this new composite material, Professor Hansang Kwon from Pukyong National University used TUBALL nanotubes produced by nanotechnology company OCSiAl. He uniformly dispersed the nanotubes in aluminum, using a grinding and mixing technique to get the raw materials down to the nano scale. According to tests, compared with conventional aluminium, the composite obtained has a tensile strength four times higher and a hardness 20 times higher.

One of the primary applications of this nanoaugmented aluminium is in high-voltage electricity cables, said Professor Kwon. ‘The existing approach in reinforcing aluminum high-voltage electricity cables is to insert a steel cable inside of it,’ he explained. ‘This dramatically increases the cable’s weight and leads to additional effort and requirements in the installation of transmission towers. Our new technology enables the number of transmission towers to be reduced, lowers the environmental damage and cuts costs. The technology has already been acquired by the Korean company Total Aluminum Service, which reportedly plans to apply it in the production of high-voltage electricity cables and wires for electric vehicles.

‘The carbon nanotube–aluminium composite cable has sufficient tensile strength and weighs only one-third that of the copper used in general cables,’ added Professor Kwon. 

This story is reprinted from material from OCSiAlwith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.