Carbon Nanotubes to be used to directly create AC power eliminating need for DC-AC conversion
Although very small, a carbon nanotube can pack a lot of punch, and researchers at MIT who have been working with this technology are making breakthroughs that could lead to a new cheap, clean power source with minimal impact on the environment. In a paper published in Nature Materials this month, MIT researcher Michael Strano explains how these submicroscopic nanotubes can be coated with a reactive fuel which, when ignited at one end by a laser or high voltage spark, creates an internal thermopower wave that moves up to 10,000 times faster than the initial chemical-based chain reaction and reaches temperatures up to 3,000 Kelvin.
“We call it electron entrainment, since part of the current appears to scale with wave velocity,” said Strano. Research has shown that the thermal wave generated in the nanotube gathers up electrons in the same way an ocean wave collects debris, so that it moves along the surface of the wave. Called a "combustion wave," this thermopower technology has the potential to directly create alternating current (AC), eliminating the big step in power conversion from DC to AC and storing as much energy as a lithium-ion battery.