Tuesday, June 10, 2014

New Nano-Technology Turns Wires Into Energy Storage Too

Batteries are used to storage energy and electrical cables are only used to transmit electricity. These two things seem to have no similarity in functionality.

However, nanotechnology scientist and professor Jayan Thomas and his Ph.D. student Zenan Yu, from University of Central Florida, have merged these 2 functions into one thing - a single lightweight copper wire to both transmit and store electricity. Copper wire is the starting point but eventually, Thomas said, as the technology improves, special fibers could also be developed with nanostructures to conduct and store energy.

This is how the cable works:

First, the team took a single copper wire and placed a sheath over the wire made up of nanowhiskers on the outer surface of the copper wire which treated with a special alloy to form an electrode. The whiskers then wrapped around with a thin plastic sheet and grew another layer of whiskers, to act as second electrode. Finally, a metal sheath was used to wrap around the cable to form the outer covering.

Because of the insulation, the inner copper wire retains its ability to channel energy and both the outer whiskers acted like a supercapacitor to store powerful energy.

It can be applied in the design and development of electrical vehicles, space-launch vehicles and portable electronic devices. By being able to store and conduct energy on the same wire, heavy, space-consuming batteries could become a thing of the past. Although more work still needs to be done, but it holds a tremendous potential to revolutionize the energy storage industry.

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