Process, structure and electrochemical properties of carbon nanotube containing films and fibers
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The objective of this thesis is to study the effect of process conditions on structure and electrochemical properties of polyacrylonitrile (PAN)/carbon nanotube (CNT) composite film based electrodes developed for electrochemical capacitors. The process parameters like activation temperature, CNT loading in the composite films are varied to determine optimum process conditions for physical (CO2) and chemical (KOH) activation methods. The PAN/CNT precursors are stabilized in air, carbonized in inert atmosphere (argon), and activated by physical (CO2) and chemical (KOH) methods. The physical activation process is carried out by heat treating the carbon precursors in CO2 atmosphere at activation temperatures. In the chemical activation process, stabilized carbon precursors are immersed in aqueous solutions of activating media (KOH), dried, and subsequently heat treated in an inert atmosphere at the activation temperature. The structure and morphology are probed using scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The specific capacitance, power and energy density of the activated electrodes are evaluated with aqueous electrolytes (KOH) as well as organic electrolyte (ionic liquid in acetonitrile) in Cell Test. The surface area and pore size distribution of the activated composite electrodes are evaluated using nitrogen absorption. Specific capacitance dependence on factors such as surface area and pore size distribution are studied. A maximum specific capacitance of 300 F/g in KOH electrolyte and maximum energy density of 22 wh/kg in ionic liquid has been achieved. BET surface areas in excess of 2500 m2/g with controlled pore sizes in 1 - 5 nm range has been attained in this work.