Iron catalyst chemistry in modeling a high-pressure carbon monoxide nanotube reactor

J Nanosci Nanotechnol. 2003 Feb-Apr;3(1-2):63-73. doi: 10.1166/jnn.2003.164.


The high-pressure carbon monoxide (HiPco) technique for producing single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) is analyzed with the use of a chemical reaction model coupled with flow properties calculated along streamlines, calculated by the FLUENT code for pure carbon monoxide. Cold iron pentacarbonyl, diluted in CO at about 30 atmospheres, is injected into a conical mixing zone, where hot CO is also introduced via three jets at 30 degrees with respect to the axis. Hot CO decomposes the Fe(CO)5 to release atomic Fe. Then iron nucleates and forms clusters that catalyze the formation of SWNTs by a disproportionation reaction (Boudouard) of CO on Fe-containing clusters. Alternative nucleation rates are estimated from the theory of hard sphere collision dynamics with an activation energy barrier. The rate coefficient for carbon nanotube growth is estimated from activation energies in the literature. The calculated growth was found be about an order of magnitude greater than measured, regardless of the nucleation rate. A study of cluster formation in an incubation zone prior to injection into the reactor shows that direct dimer formation from Fe atoms is not as important as formation via an exchange reaction of Fe with CO in FeCO.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Monoxide / chemistry*
  • Catalysis
  • Computer Simulation
  • Crystallization / instrumentation
  • Crystallization / methods*
  • Iron / chemistry*
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / chemistry*
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / isolation & purification
  • Pressure
  • Rheology / methods
  • Temperature
  • Volatilization


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Nanotubes, Carbon
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Iron