Monday, April 09, 2012

Coated Carbon Nanotubes Used to Generate Electricity

(This is a re-post from 2010)

But since it involves fossil fuels and that ol' demon carbon, Al Gore's head will explode with the wrath of Shiva, and the nanotubes will be impounded with a millstone of oppressive taxation and cast into the lowest level of Gaia's abyss.

Or something.
"Carbon nanotubes are thin sheets of carbon rolled up into teensy tubes each with a diameter about 30,000 times smaller than a strand of hair.

When carbon — one of the most abundant elements on Earth — is rolled up into tubes, it exhibits some extraordinary properties such as high heat conduction, which the team exploited in the new study.

A carbon firecracker
The researchers coated the nanotubes with a fuel, such as gasoline or ethanol, and applied heat to one end. The result: The fuel reacts and produces more heat, which ignites more fuel to create even more heat.

The process creates “a wave that travels like dominoes falling in a line [down the length of the nanotube],” said study team member Michael Strano, a chemical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The resulting heat wave, it turns out, also creates a wave of electrons moving in one direction — aka electricity.

“The thermal wave squeezes electrons out of the nanotubes like a tube of toothpaste,” Strano explained.

The devices built in the MIT lab produced 10 times more power than a lithium-ion battery of equivalent mass."
Sounds promising, in geek sorta way. Kinda like storing solar electricity via massive liquid metal batteries - which operate at 700 degrees Celsius!

I prefer nuclear power generation, but I'm silly that way.
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