2010 EuroSpaceward Conference – Saturday afternoon

First up is Dr. David Ruch who heads up the department of Advanced Materials and Structures (AMS) at the Centre Recherche Public Henri Tudor.  He talked about the work they were doing at their institute including using CNTs for “…plasma polymerization of materials to make them suitable for energy and barrier systems.”  Possible applications include fuel cells, anticorrosion layers on galvanized steel, etc.

Next is Dr. Jerome Guillot, a researcher on CNT functionalisation at the Department for Science and Materials Analysis (SAM) at the Public Research Centre Gabriel Lippmann.  Dr. Guillot is a partner in the proposed Project CLAVIS I posted about earlier.  His work centers on research about the concept of gas detection using functionalized carbon nanotubes.  The number of potential applications that CNTs have is truly amazing.  In this application (and in many others), it relies on the very huge surface / volume ration that CNTs enjoy.  Because of my interest in using CNTs to build a Space Elevator tether, I am guilty of having ‘tunnel-vision’ regarding what CNTs can do, but the nanotube workshop I attended in Cincinnati a couple of months ago opened my eyes – and now what I’m seeing here at the 2010 EuroSpaceward conference is just reinforcing it.  Dr. Guillot’s work with CNTs is ‘backwards’ in what others are trying to do with them.  When trying to maximize the strength of CNTs, you want them to be as defect-free as possible.  However, when doping them with metals (or whatever), as Dr. Guillot is doing, he wants to have defects – these are the nucleation sites.

The next speaker was Dr. Philippe Poulin, a CNT fiber production expert at Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal.  His talk was entitled “Liquid processing of carbon nanotube composite fibers”.   This approach to creating CNT fibers (or composite fibers) is an alternative to the “forest growth” which comes from carbon-vapor deposition (CVD) CNT growth.  One type of Liquid processing is good for low CNT concentration, very useful for making items such as conductive textiles. (‘smart’ fabrics, anti-static packaging, strain sensors, etc.).  Another type of liquid spinning is good for high CNT concentrations, a method similar to how other synthetic fibers (such as Kevlar) are spun.

Next up is Mr. Matthew James from Cambridge University.  This is the home of Dr. Alan Windle and his “special kind of smoke” CNTs.  His topic ks “Advancements on CNT fibre strength” – a topic near and dear to my heart (and to anyone else who wants a Space Elevator).  They claim for a 1 mm fiber a specific strength of 9GPa-g/cm3.  This would be strong enough to win the $2Million Strong Tether competition if they (and a to-be-named US partner) would enter.  They also claim numbers of 1pound 35 to send a kilogram to LEO!  I have to see how they came up with their numbers.  Also, he discussed using the SE tether itself as a solar panel, collecting energy from the sun and transmitting it to the Climber(s).  I have to think about this – I’m going to write up a separate post on his presentation.  Very innovative, but too good to be true, I fear…

Now up is Dr. Karl Fleury-Frenette from the University of Liege in Belgium.  His topic is Laser micro-processing of carbon nanotubes, including laser ablation, laser generation of nanoparticles, laser induced forward transfer (a coating technique), thermo-reflectance, local laser continuous heating (early 2011) and laser assisted CVD (2012)