Best Ideas 2022 features all the nominated entries submitted under ‘Submit your Idea’ category. All the entries consist of innovative solutions or propositions for an enterprise that champions the Sustainable Development Goals. They can be on the conceptual, planning, or start-up stage.

Using carbon nanotubes to bring gains in batteries performances

Stage of Idea planning stage

Explain your idea in details:

Clean water, food, access to education (and the list can continue) are very important, but at the same time at some point in the future everything will become useless if the planet does not have healthy and breathable air. At the moment, Romania is on the third place in European Union countries with the most polluted air in the urban areas. The values reached 12,6 g/m3 in 2019, from 25 g/m3 in 2015, but the level recommended by the WHO (World Health Organisation) is 10g/m3. In 2022, in Romania were registered 12.800 fully electric cars from a total of over 8.8 million vehicles. And I think that the two reasons for which people are not taking into consideration an electrical vehicle when buying a new one are mainly the low number of charging stations and the time the car needs for charging versus the lifetime of the battery. Sure, there are a lot of other things we can and we must do in order to avoid pollution , but when you look at the bigger picture, on a global scale, extending the batteries' lifetimes would be an important step further. This is demonstrated to be possible by using carbon naotubes into their structure while manufacturing them. The materials that would help the batteries store more energy tend to crack and ultimately pulverize during the charging cycle: Lithium ions make the material expand during charging and then contract during discharging. As this happens repeatedly, an inactive layer forms around the material and degrades the battery performance. Taking a molecular approach to the design of the battery, it was demonstrated that such breakdown in anode materials could be prevented by creating nets formed by single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT), nets which are anchored to the battery material via poly[3-(potassium-4-butanoate) thiophene],

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Expected impact of your idea on sustainable development

The target is to start producing these carbon nanotubes in a local plant and collaborate with some EV batteries manufacturers and people in the automotive industry and get the final product on the market. Currently there are such producers around the world, but not a big one in Romania and there could be multiple advantages if such a factory will be established in this particular area. First of all, the local community will be impacted - at this moment there are not many existent jobs in this area (the Engineering field is not so well developed) and I think that it is a necessity in order to the community to grow, evolve and attract new and well prepared potentially employees. Secondly, looking at the bigger picture on a long term, a local plant will help reducing the costs for manufacturing such a product and it could be sold easier to its final user. And this final user is represented by the millions of the car drivers. If they are convinced to opt for an electrical vehicle, together, in time, they will help to lower the pollution rate. This has to come together with an awareness campaign, people need to be educated in the good direction and to let go of selfishness and the way of life guided by the "Après moi, le déluge" (After me, the flood) principle.

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Plans for implementation and sustainability

The idea is just at the planning stage at the moment. I believe that the project can attract both private investors and could obtain European funds (I will apply with my business plan) which can cover the initial investment for the actual plant (physical place), the needed equipment and the salaries of the first employees. It will start with a low capacity of production in order to have smaller start-up costs , but enough for the estimated profit to make the company able to access an exponential growth. At the moment, the cheapest carbon nanotubes on the market cost around $100-200 per kilogram. But their value raises as the purity is bigger and Carbon Nanotubes Market Size Worth is estimated to be $16.22 Billion by 2027. At first, the number of employees is estimated to be no more than 10. As the company will grow, a part of the profit will be directed to a linked project which aims to offer a number of young high-school students [(15-18 years), not necessarily with great school performances, but with great desire to learn and to excel] access to free of charge training conducted by people with experience in the Engineering/Management/Sales fields.

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Your profile

I'm a 28 years old Mechanical Engineer from Romania, with a B. Sc. and a MSc. in Precision Mechanics and Nanotechnologies. In 2015 I have worked as a Nanotechnology Researcher in Paola, Malta and there I got the chance to produce single walled and multi walled carbon nanotubes, using the arc discharge method and I have analyzed their properties and their potential. After that, I returned in Romania and I have worked as a Mechanical Engineer, but my goal is to become an entrepreneur and to be as closer to the nanotechnology area as I can. I am constantly taking nanotechnology courses so I can always be up to date with the newest technologies and to never loose touch with this field. My biggest motivation is using my knowledge to make a change for the better no matter how big or small it is and I strongly believe that this is what each and every one of us should do if given the opportunity.

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