"Ring of Fire", and not even an allusion to curry.
MIT boffins say they have discovered a radical new source of portable energy, powered by a burning ring of fire, which can hold a hundred times as much juice as a li-ion battery. The key, of course, is nanotubes. As you do, the boffins at MIT decided to coat some of these amazing cylindrical carbon molecules with "a layer of …
Well that bran vindaloo I had last night certainly enabled me to produce lots on nanotubes today.
"The researchers say that their new firepowered battery tech holds a hundred times as much energy, weight for weight, as the same weight of lithium ion batteries."
Excellent, we should be able to get an exploding iPod into orbit soon, possibly an ipod ‘nano’. How about using one to power vulture 1
Paris, she knows how to handle nanotubes (and some bigger ones)
"a great deal of power being given off as heat and light"
Hmmm. A buckeyball with a bit of deuterium in the center, a bristling shell of equal-length nanotube fire-rings with their outer ends gathered, and an igniter.
Oops. We won't see anything more in the news about this discovery. At least until somebody sets off their watch-pocket thermonuclear device.
because as it's not based on expanding gasses an engine working on the same principle would take a tiny amount of fuel compared to an internal combustion engine. And it'd be especially useful on the smaller scales- awesome though it would be, I don't think having a V8 in my chest to power a pacemaker would be a good move.
Plus, by the sounds of it, it'll not lose stored energy as time goes on- so for long-term storage it'll be great!
Combined with a good, efficient electric motor you could have a car with the power and range of a petrol car with the awesome torque of an electric one- and one with a pretty small fuel bill. You could even make a profit if you had, say, a cow to provide fuel and slaughtered/sold it at the end of its life.
It would be interesting to know what this "highly reactive fuel" is. The best conventional Li-Ion batteries yield about 0.75MJ/Kg. However, there are "nanowire" Li-Ion prototypes which achieve about 2.5MJ/Kg.
Against that, the highest energy density of any chemical (per unit mass) is Hydrogen at 143MJ/Kg whilst hydrocarbons come in at about 56MJ/Kg or lower. This does not include the mass of any oxidising agent. Note that this is the raw energy obtained in burning the stuff. Efficiency of conversion into electricity starts at about 80% (with fuel cells) and then goes down with other methods.
So we are faced with the best possible chemical energy source only being about 60 times more energy dense than the best Li-Ion batteries (making 100x impossible). That's before all the mass of the nanotube device itself, fuel storage an so on is taken into account (storing hydrogen under pressure requires a container which weighs more than the fuel).
Cyclotrimethylene trinitramine is the fuel. That's better known as RDX, the active ingredient in, for example, Semtex and composition C - but also in Torpex, the explosive in the bombs dropped on Germany in WWII.
The IUPAC name for those who can work out structures from such is 1,3,5-Trinitroperhydro-1,3,5-triazine, or C3H6N6O6, which will happily decompose to 3CO, 3H20 and 3N2. REF is 1.6.
I can just imagine the reaction of airlines to the discovery that a new generation of laptop batteries were made from high explosives.
Thermal batteries are known tech in the military. with virtually zero self-discharge (The electrolyte needs to be molten before the ions move, several 100 degrees c at least) they have long shelf lives and can do high power pulses (always wondered why they were never tried for a sort of repeating laser cannon).
If the actual material is not integral to the process then something like a thermite mixture (like that in thermal batteries) would be workable.
The *likely* problem with this material is that it only works when it's been "ignited" in some way. Its a primary cell and it runs till exhaustion. Great for emergency equipment and missiles but not a good match for the iPod/Player/Tablet/Whatever.
Nice piece of science though. Have a theory. Test it. Results *much* better than expected.
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