A system and method for high volume production of nanoparticles, nanotubes, and items incorporating nanoparticles and nanotubes. Microwave, radio frequency, or infrared energy vaporizes a metal catalyst which, as it condenses, is contacted by carbon or other elements such as silicon, germanium, or boron to form agglomerates. The agglomerates may be annealed to accelerate the production of nanotubes. Magnetic or electric fields may be used to align the nanotubes during their production. The nanotubes may be separated from the production byproducts in aligned or non-aligned configurations. The agglomerates may be formed directly into tools, optionally in compositions that incorporate other materials such as abrasives, binders, carbon-carbon composites, and cermets.
The U.S. Government has rights to this invention pursuant to contract number DE-AC05-00OR22800 between the U.S. Department of Energy and BWXT Y-12, L.L.C. The U.S. Government has rights to this invention pursuant to contract number DE-AC05-00OR22725 between the U.S. Department of Energy and UT--Battelle, LLC.