Surging Global Carbon Nanotube Capacity to Enable Applications Beyond Lithium-ion Batteries, Finds IDTechEx


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are gaining significant traction as a conductive additive at the cathode of lithium-ion batteries (LiB), a market driven in turn by the electrification of vehicles. This success has seen an explosion in the global production capacity of CNTs, with players racing to establish themselves as a leading supplier to the energy sector. However, the potential application areas for CNTs extend far beyond batteries. In this article, IDTechEx assesses the effects of increasing capacity and how this surge in supply will open opportunities for CNTs beyond the LiB market.

The IDTechEx report, “Carbon Nanotubes 2023-2033: Market, Technology & Players“, provides a comprehensive overview of the CNT market, including an assessment of the key application areas, major players, and also includes granular 10-year market forecasts for CNT demand (tpa) and market value (US$), segmented by application areas. CNTs have seemingly found their killer application as a conductive additive in lithium-ion batteries, and IDTechEx project the market to grow in line with the booming lithium-ion battery market.

The ever-increasing demand for CNTs in the energy storage sector has translated to several large expansions in capacity by the big players in the CNT market. Cnano has a large number of notable customers, but on the other hand, LG Chem is vertically integrated. Both have announced significant expansions over the coming years alongside other players such as JEIO and Kumho Petrochemical. In particular, LG Chem is set to scale capacity from 1,700 tpa to 2,900 tpa by the end of 2023 and increase again to 6,200 tpa in 2024. New entrants to the market have announced optimistic future capacities, with Carbon Corp (C2CNT) stating plans to install a 7,500 tpa plant converting flue gas to MWCNTs.

Global MWCNT capacity to double by 2025. Source: IDTechEx

The advantageous use of CNTs in LiBs as a conductive additive has high-volume potential and will bring a number of outcomes to the CNT market, some of which have already been seen. A dramatic increase in planned capacity can be seen in the chart above, while consolidation of the market has also occurred. Major players have entered the market through strategic acquisitions such as that seen when Cabot, a major player in the carbon black market, acquired SUSN in 2021. Perhaps the most tangible outcome will be an inevitable reduction in the cost of the material and a trend towards commoditization with reduced margins. Parallels can be drawn with the carbon black industry, where profit margins of less than US$1/kg have been reported.

Approaching the concept of commoditization from another angle, this reduction in the price point of the material, coupled with expanding capacity, will inevitably open up opportunities for CNTs in markets beyond LiBs. For many of these applications, CNTs will be competing with other advanced nanocarbons, such as carbon black and graphene. Many of these opportunities are cost-sensitive and will not tolerate a premium additive, with reinforced concrete or asphalt a prime example. Tires utilize a vast quantity of carbon reinforcement on an annual basis, and despite studies that show CNTs can reduce nanoparticulate emissions, carbon black continues to dominate this space. The IDTechEx report details how CNTs will find opportunities in areas that leverage several key properties, with a notable example being in reinforced composites. By providing high mechanical strength coupled with impressive thermal conductivity, CNTs are an exciting prospect for de-icing technology built into polymer composites for use cases such as wind turbine blades or aerospace applications.

Some of the most exciting and hyped application areas for CNTs are best suited to the single walled variety (SWCNTs). The increase in sensitivity and selectivity of SWCNTs can enable next-generation technologies, including quantum computers and highly tuneable gas sensors. While the bulk of current production is focussed on multi walled CNTs (MWCNTs) for LiB applications, major players such as Cnano are pivoting into the SWCNT space and have plans for production capacity exceeding 100 tpa in the coming years. An assessment of material suppliers, including production process, targeted application areas, and a benchmarking of materials is provided in the IDTechEx market report.

It is highly likely that the success of LiBs will pave the way for the expansion of global CNT production capacity, which in turn will drive a price reduction and enable opportunities for CNTs beyond energy storage applications. Competition with alternative advanced carbon materials will be fierce, and the new report by IDTechEx lays out the suitability of each carbon material for a variety of applications, alongside an assessment of the market opportunity for CNTs in each of these applications.

For more details on the carbon nanotube market, see the IDTechEx market report “Carbon Nanotubes 2023-2033: Market, Technology & Players”. For more information on this report please visit, or for the full portfolio of IDTechEx reports and market intelligence offerings, please visit


IDTechEx Outlines the Future of Automotive Radar – Miniaturising Size and Maximising Performance


Radar has been one of the most significant additions to vehicles in the past two decades. It provides luxury advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) features like adaptive cruise control (ACC), as well as critical safety features like automatic emergency braking and blind spot detection. It has grown from an expensive accessory feature on the most upmarket cars to an almost ubiquitous presence across all price points.

IDTechEx’s research conducted in “Automotive Radar 2024-2044: Forecasts, Technologies, Applications” shows that, on average, 70% of new cars shipped in 2022 had a front-facing radar, while 30% had side radars. However, with ADAS systems becoming more sophisticated and level 3 autonomous systems entering the market for the first time, radar technology needs to improve to meet the new performance demands these systems require. As such, the industry is now seeing the first generations of “4D imaging” radars come to market and get deployed onto vehicles. With that in mind, here IDTechEx explores what a 4D imaging radar is, why it is needed, and what new technologies they are using.


What is a 4D imaging radar? 

Firstly, a 4D radar is not automatically an imaging radar. The two terminologies can sometimes seem interchangeable; however, IDTechEx believes it is important to distinguish between the two. In the past, most radar have been limited to 3 dimensions, with these being azimuth (horizontal angle), distance, and velocity. A 4D radar simply means the addition of some resolving ability in the elevation direction.

A classic example that highlights the need for this fourth dimension is the scenario of detecting a parked car in the entrance of a tunnel. A 3D radar will return the same results whether there is a car in the entrance or not. Normally, the vehicle will assume that the large reflection is a tunnel, and the adaptive cruise control system will continue. This behavior is perfectly acceptable if a human is behind the wheel and can override the ACC system accordingly, but it becomes an issue for vehicles operating at SAE level 3 and above, which has become a real-world reality over the past couple of years.

In theory a 4D radar will overcome this problem. The addition of the vertical resolution means the radar should be able to separate the stopped vehicle at ground level from the tunnel a few meters above the deck. However, if the vertical resolution is poor to the extent that the tunnel and car are still present in the same “pixel”, then the situation has not been improved. This is where the distinction between 4D radar and 4D imaging radar comes into play. The imaging radar should have sufficient angular resolution that it can distinguish the tunnel and vehicle even at very long distances. In fact, IDTechEx thinks that an imaging radar should have sufficient resolution to distinguish much smaller obstacles at long distances, for instance, a person on the road at 100m. But what resolution is needed to do this? Assuming that the person is 5-6ft tall, a resolution of around 1˚  would be needed to separate the person from the road. In this scenario, the system would have enough time to activate the brakes and bring the vehicle to a stop, avoiding a collision, even at highway speeds.

However, being able to detect the person is one thing; correctly classifying them as a person with the radar data alone is another. This is why radar is usually supported with front-facing cameras for applications like automatic emergency braking. At night-time, in foggy conditions, or in heavy rain, the camera might not be able to see either. In these situations, there are a few options: add short or long-wave infrared detection to the vehicle, providing camera-like resolution with robustness to poor visibility conditions, add LiDAR to the vehicle, with radar-like ranging abilities but at a large cost, or improve the resolution of radar further.

Getting to 1˚  resolution and beyond

Radar has a natural physical limit to its resolving performance known as the Rayleigh Criterion, which is proportional to the inverse of frequency multiplied by aperture size (1/ƒ∂). In short, a normal automotive radar operating at 77GHz, and with an antenna array 10cm wide, should be able to reach a resolution 2.8˚ . For context, a typical human eye can resolve at around 0.005-0.01˚ , enough to see a 1cm object at 100m. To improve radar’s resolution its operating frequency could be increased, after all humans use visible light which is in the hundreds of terahertz. However, the frequency of radar is limited by regulations and is not something that is easily changed.

The next option is to increase the size of the aperture. While this is technically possible, doing so runs into practicality challenges. In order to get from 2.8˚  to 1˚, the aperture needs to increase from 10cm to 28cm. To get this resolution in both azimuth and elevation, the radar is now 28cm x 28cm, which will be challenging to integrate into the front bumper. It will likely cause airflow issues to the radiator, could be difficult to protect from damage, and will cause the OEM’s aesthetics teams a bit of a headache. IDTechEx has seen radars getting larger, with examples like Continental’s ARS540, Bosch’s FR5+, and Arbe’s Phoenix all exceeding 10cm, but the largest of these, the Phoenix, is still only 12.7cm x 14.3cm.

Another issue with creating larger radar is filling them with channels. Creating a 28cm x 28cm radar without the supporting semiconductor technology would be like building a $10,000 DSLR camera lens and pairing it with a 1MP camera phone sensor from 2001. Here, the analog to pixels is virtual channels, which is the multiple of a radar’s transmitting and receiving channels (Tx and Rx). In the past a 3D radar might have one transmitting channel and three receiving (1Tx/3Rx). A basic 4D radar would likely use a radar transceiver with a 3Tx/4Rx arrangement, while some leading radar combine four of these chips to get a 12Tx/16Rx arrangement with 192 virtual channels. Arbe has developed a chipset that scales to 48Tx/48Rx in a single radar giving 2,304 virtual channels. This helps Arbe in achieving 1˚  resolution in the azimuth and 1.7˚  in the elevation.

One way of combating the challenges around building a very large radar is to distribute it somehow. IDTechEx has seen a couple of approaches to this. One from Zendar involves using two lower-performance radar placed on opposite ends of the bumper and working together. Now, the aperture size has increased from less than 10cm to effectively 1.5-2m. As such, the resolution of these two radar working together is just over 0.1˚  in the azimuth. The other approach that IDTechEx has seen is to build separate antenna boards for each channel (on a 3Tx/4Rx radar) and place them across the bumper. This is the development route being explored by Plastic Omnium and Greener Wave.

Software is another key aspect of this discussion, and nearly all the companies mentioned here will be using some kind of super resolution software to improve their performance. Returning to the camera analogy, modern DSLR cameras come with powerful processors that can make the most of an image, while the cameras in modern phones have had years of software development to produce the sharpest, most natural-looking results. In radar, there are a few examples of start-ups making some exemplary algorithms for improving the resolution of radar without making any physical changes. Zadar Labs uses technologies like machine learning, AI, and encoded transmission signals to improve radar performance. Spartan, on the other hand, uses an algorithm based on research for F-18 and F-35 fighter jet applications. Super-resolution software can improve the angular resolution by a factor of 4, taking a standard 2.8˚  angular resolution radar down to 0.5-1˚  and lower if it is already employing some of the other techniques discussed here.

Scanning is another promising option for radar. Metawave’s metamaterial antenna uses beamforming and beam steering technologies to focus the radar’s performance into a thin fan. This fan is then scanned through the desired elevation field of view, providing upgraded resolution performance in both elevation and azimuth. The other bonus of this technology is that the emission energy is spread over a far smaller area than a flash-type approach, meaning it can achieve longer ranges than a non-scanning equivalent.

With all these options for building the next generation of radar, how can one know which is best? IDTechEx’s “Automotive Radar 2024-2044: Forecasts, Technologies, Applications” report goes into even more detail about how these technologies work and improve radar performance. The report also presents benchmarking analysis to pit these technologies against each other over key performance indicators such as angular resolution, range, field of view, and frame rate, identifying which technology produces the best overall package, with some unexpected results.

IDTechEx’s latest report, “Automotive Radar 2024-2044: Forecasts, Technologies, Applications” provides a holistic overview of the automotive radar industry, including tier one and tier 2 products, market shares, start-ups, new technologies, material requirements, autonomous and ADAS markets, and 20-year forecasts.

For the full report and downloadable sample pages, please see For more information on the full portfolio of IDTechEx research and how to access the expert-led data and analysis as part of a market intelligence subscription, please visit


IDTechEx Assesses the Major Application Areas Driving the Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Market


The desire for zero-emission power generation has seen solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) touted as a possible solution. SOFC’s capability to run on hydrogen and at a higher efficiency than alternative fuel cells when providing combined heat and power (CHP) is an enticing prospect, while fuel flexibility allows for a transition from hydrocarbons towards zero emission power generation as part of the hydrogen economy. The real question, though, is that with many opportunities for stationary power sources, which applications are key to the success of the solid oxide fuel cell industry?

The new IDTechEx report, “Solid Oxide Fuel Cells 2023-2033: Technology, Applications and Market Forecasts“, provides a comprehensive overview of the solid oxide fuel cell market, including an assessment of the key technology trends, major players and also includes granular 10-year market forecasts for solid oxide fuel cell demand (MW) and market value (US$), segmented by application areas. IDTechEx projects the market value to reach US$6.8 billion by 2033.

Due to high operating temperatures, ramp up/down times can be long for solid oxide fuel cells, while the associated large change in temperature can lead to degradation of ceramic components, specifically is there is a mismatch of thermal expansion coefficient between neighbouring components. As such, SOFCs are best suited to applications where continuous power output is required, and utility-scale power generation is one such market sector. Use of the generated thermal energy to provide heat and hot water to nearby facilities adds to the appeal of the overall system. The IDTechEx report details OEMs providing SOFC systems for zero emission utility scale power generation, partnerships that have been established with utility providers and key examples of case studies.

Similar to power generation for utility companies, SOFCs are well suited for utilization in commercial and industrial (C&I) applications where continuous operation is likely. Grid independence allows companies to operate with reliable power generation, even during power outages. A clear example of this ability can be seen with Walmart utilizing SOFCs provided by Bloom Energy to ensure supermarkets can remain open at all times, 24/7. An advantage for SOFCs in C&I applications is the ability to operate in CHP mode, enhancing efficiency with respect to competing alternative fuel cell technologies and providing heat directly to the commercial or industrial space. On the other hand, another energy-intensive application is data centers and telecommunication networks, but in these cases, CHP is not required as overheating of the servers is the main cause for concern with respect to temperature control. For this reason, several players have stated to IDTechEx that they will not pursue power generation for data centers as a viable application area for their SOFCs.

For on-grid residential applications, a suitable choice for backup power would be lithium-ion batteries charged from the grid. Batteries are more readily available and at a cheaper price point than low-power SOFCs. A drawback is the longer start-up time and few possible cycles for solid oxide fuel cells. With connection to the gas network, SOFCs can supply CHP on a continuous basis. Pairing with batteries allows a buffer to intermittent demand in residential applications. Japan is the most mature, and largest, market for residential CHP SOFCs. Off-grid operation, with on-site gas storage coupled with a SOFC can provide continuous power. The possibility of running the fuel cell in reverse (rSOC), powered by renewables such as solar, and producing hydrogen on site is an intriguing concept – allowing the fuel cell to then run on this generated fuel. However, the hydrogen must be stored on-site, a much less convenient fuel than a hydrocarbon. Off-grid applications are a small market with approximately 0.1% of people in high income countries living off-grid.

So, what is the future of the solid oxide fuel cell market? Partnerships have been announced for high volume manufacturing, due to come online within the next five years, with different companies targeting varied applications. In other cases, such as vehicles (including marine), limited success for SOFCs is expected, with alternative fuel cell technology (PEM) set to dominate. IDTechEx has produced granular 10-year market forecasts for the global SOFC demand (MW) and market value (US$) segmented by application area based on historical data and first-hand company interviews.