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We demonstrate a spray pyrolysis method to grow carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with high degree of crystallinity, aspect ratio and degree of alignment on a variety of different substrates, such as conventional steel, carbon fibres (CF) and ceramics. The process consists in the chemical vapour deposition of both a thin SiO2 layer and CNTs that subsequently grow on this thin layer. After CNT growth, increases in specific surface by factors of 1000 and 30 for the steel and CF samples, respectively, are observed. CNTs growth on ceramic surfaces results in a surface resistance of 37.5 Ohm/sq. When using conventional steel as a rector tube, we observed CNTs growth rates of 0.6 g/min. Details of nanotube morphology and the growth mechanism are discussed. Since the method discussed here is highly versatile, it opens up a wide variety of applications in which specific substrates could be used in combination with CNTs.