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SouthWest NanoTechnologies Awarded $500,000 Development Grant

06 July 2010

SouthWest NanoTechnologies, along with the University of Oklahoma (OU), has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) to develop carbon nanotube (CNT) enhanced cathode materials for low-cost efficient Li-ion electric vehicle batteries.

This Oklahoma Nanotechnology Applications Project (ONAP), ""Advanced Cathode Materials for Next Generation Batteries used in All Electric Vehicles,"" is aimed at improving the Li-ion battery cyclability using SouthWest NanoTechnologies s Speciality Multi Wall (SMW) carbon nanotubes.

Under this three-year grant, SouthWest NanoTechnologies will be working with the University of Oklahoma to solidify partnerships with automotive manufacturers as well as Li-ion battery producers to advance fully battery-powered vehicles. SouthWest NanoTechnologies will supply ""nanocomposite paste"" formulations containing SMW carbon nanotubes which will be sold to fabricators of finished cathodes and battery manufacturers. In ten years, SouthWest NanoTechnologies estimates that demand for these materials could exceed six tons of carbon nanotubes daily.

""We are honoured to receive this significant ONAP grant and we are truly grateful for the continued support of OCAST,"" says SouthWest NanoTechnologies CEO Dave Arthur. ""We plan to demonstrate that our SMW carbon nanotubes are the best cost/performance solution of all available carbon nanomaterials for Li-ion batteries used in automotive and other applications. Our success could lead to significant economic growth for the state of Oklahoma, as well as help enable a key strategic initiative for our country -- to stimulate domestic production of Li-ion batteries for electric powered vehicles and greatly reduce our dependency on foreign oil.""

Today, Li-ion batteries have a limited lifespan, due to the degradation of battery capacity after each charge/discharge cycle. ""Consumers have accepted this battery performance for mobile devices such as laptop computers and cell phones, but this limitation will not be tolerated for electric powered vehicles,"" Arthur explains. During charging and discharging, the conductive carbon black particles used in today's Li-ion battery cathodes start to separate, which diminishes the ability of the carbon particle network to conduct electricity and heat efficiently, resulting in significant degradation of battery capacity over time.

According to SouthWest NanoTechnologies, due to the ultra-long tubular shape of SMW carbon nanotubes, they can form three-dimensional conductive networks at much lower loading than carbon black particles (capacity advantage). These networks are expected to be much more robust, to better withstand swelling/de-swelling and thermal/mechanical stresses (cyclability advantage).

""SouthWest NanoTechnologies SMW carbon nanotubes offer performance advantages over traditional multi-wall carbon nanotubes because of their significantly higher purity (99.9%) and superior tube structure (smaller diameter, fewer walls, fewer defects),"" Arthur says. ""They are also manufactured using the patented CoMoCAT process, which is inherently scalable and leads to consistent quality control at an affordable price. This is especially important when production rates are in the range of 'tons' per day.""

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