Carbon Nanotube Based New Solar Thermal Fuel Formulated

Published by Crazy Engineers on Saturday 23 July 2011 by Kunal Mathur
 
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of technology have come up with yet another revolutionary discovery. The team of MIT scientists claims that it has devised a new type of solar thermal fuel. The thing that makes this fuel different and better is that it can store 10,000 times more energy than any other existing fuel or system. Once again, nanotechnology has found its application in this fuel in the form of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) that have been altered a little by azobenzene. This new material can be used as a substitute for the lithium ion batteries since it possesses the same energy per unit volume. It can be charged by exposing it to the sun and can be used for a long period.

 

The solar thermal fuels capture the sun’s energy in the chemical bonds between the molecules. This energy can be stored indefinitely forever in the fuel. To better understand the charging and discharging phenomenon, consider this example. Suppose that a normal uncharged fuel molecule is in a ground state A initially. As this molecule absorbs the solar thermal energy, the molecule goes from state A to excited state B. This results in a minor change in the geometry of the molecular structure but no chemical reaction occurs. Such molecules are called “photo-switchable”.

As per the thermodynamics, …


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