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Fibers 2016, 4(1), 9;

Scaling up the Fabrication of Mechanically-Robust Carbon Nanofiber Foams

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA 93943, USA
Departamento de Ingeniería Química y Ambiental, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá 111321, Colombia
Energy Academic Group, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA 93943, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Ton Peijs
Received: 2 November 2015 / Revised: 12 January 2016 / Accepted: 31 January 2016 / Published: 15 February 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Carbon Fibers)
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This work aimed to identify and address the main challenges associated with fabricating large samples of carbon foams composed of interwoven networks of carbon nanofibers. Solutions to two difficulties related with the process of fabricating carbon foams, maximum foam size and catalyst cost, were developed. First, a simple physical method was invented to scale-up the constrained formation of fibrous nanostructures process (CoFFiN) to fabricate relatively large foams. Specifically, a gas deflector system capable of maintaining conditions supportive of carbon nanofiber foam growth throughout a relatively large mold was developed. ANSYS CFX models were used to simulate the gas flow paths with and without deflectors; the data generated proved to be a very useful tool for the deflector design. Second, a simple method for selectively leaching the Pd catalyst material trapped in the foam during growth was successfully tested. Multiple techniques, including scanning electron microscopy, surface area measurements, and mechanical testing, were employed to characterize the foams generated in this study. All results confirmed that the larger foam samples preserve the basic characteristics: their interwoven nanofiber microstructure forms a low-density tridimensional solid with viscoelastic behavior. Fiber growth mechanisms are also discussed. Larger samples of mechanically-robust carbon nanofiber foams will enable the use of these materials as strain sensors, shock absorbers, selective absorbents for environmental remediation and electrodes for energy storage devices, among other applications. View Full-Text
Keywords: carbon nanofibers; carbon foam carbon nanofibers; carbon foam

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Curtin, W.; Arias-Monje, P.J.; Dominguez, C.; Phillips, J.; Luhrs, C.C. Scaling up the Fabrication of Mechanically-Robust Carbon Nanofiber Foams. Fibers 2016, 4, 9.

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