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New Threadlike Carbon Nanotube Fiber Unveiled 171

Posted by samzenpus
from the threads-that-bind dept.
Zothecula writes "At about 100 times the strength of steel and a sixth the weight, with impressive electrical conductive properties, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have promised much since their discovery in 1991. The problem has been translating their impressive nanoscale properties into real-world applications on the macro scale. Researchers have now unveiled a new CNT fiber that conducts heat and electricity like a metal wire, is very strong like carbon fiber, and is flexible like a textile thread."
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New Threadlike Carbon Nanotube Fiber Unveiled

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  • by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Monday January 14, 2013 @12:57PM (#42582717)

    The parent is probably referring to this movie [imdb.com].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 14, 2013 @01:01PM (#42582777)

    The published ultimate tensile strengths of the CNT fibers in this work is well below that of aerospace-grade carbon fiber. They have a big gap to bridge before the CNTs can be of any use for building airplanes, let alone space elevators. Not saying that it can't be accomplished, but that this not yet a major breakthrough.

  • Re:How strong? (Score:5, Informative)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Monday January 14, 2013 @01:01PM (#42582779)

    Probably not... but copper and aluminium are finite resources. Sooner or later, we'll run out. Carbon, on the other hand, we have no shortage of.

  • Re:How strong? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Monday January 14, 2013 @01:17PM (#42582983)

    Probably not... but copper and aluminium are finite resources. Sooner or later, we'll run out. Carbon, on the other hand, we have no shortage of.

    Actually, in the Earth's crust, aluminum is more common than carbon by a factor of about 200. Only oxygen and silicon are more common. Source. [wikipedia.org]

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt.lynx@bc@ca> on Monday January 14, 2013 @01:31PM (#42583141) Journal
    A strand of DNA is about 2 nanometers wide... does that help?
  • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday January 14, 2013 @02:14PM (#42583641) Journal

    The classier fibreglass suppliers usually have Kevlar, carbon-fiber, and sometimes aramid(or various mixtures of the above) in woven sheets.

    More expensive than basic fibreglass; but sometimes you just need the extra strength and/or butch aesthetics.

    If your plan involves less boating and more getting shot, ballistic-grade kevlar fabrics are also pretty easily available.

  • Re:How strong? (Score:4, Informative)

    by crunchygranola (1954152) on Monday January 14, 2013 @02:35PM (#42583873)

    You have to take standard resource reserve estimates with a grain of salt. Unless they specifically analyze unconventional resources, and all resources at multiple price points above the present market price, you are getting an extremely conservative lower bound estimate on the real resources.

    It would be remarkable if the third most abundant element in the Earth's crust (8.2%) would be so "limited in distribution". Bauxite is around 40% aluminum, a modest 5-fold enrichment over the crustal average, there are vast quantities of material (e.g. aluminum clays like kaolin) that are nearly as high, and a commercial production process is already being brought to market: http://www.ammg.com.au/download/IndMin%20-%20Meckering%20making%20alumina%20from%20kaolin%20-%20Sept%2012.pdf [ammg.com.au] . In two hundred years exploiting other aluminum resources won't be a problem.

  • by crunchygranola (1954152) on Monday January 14, 2013 @03:01PM (#42584167)

    The extent of nano-tube regulation in California was passing a bill (AB289) that authorizes the Department of Toxic Substances Control to request information on environmental and health impacts from nanotube manufacturers and importers. It was authorized to collect information from the industry to use in evaluating hazards and risks (a process completed in 2009).

    That's it.

    No ban. Not even any regulation at all, whatsoever.

    And it seems perfectly reasonable for the DTSC to collect such information. It is not as if completely novel materials, to which humans and other living things have never before been exposed, have never shown any harmful effects.

    The California hating automatic reflex - much easier than taking the trouble to actually learn things.

  • Re:How strong? (Score:4, Informative)

    by slew (2918) on Monday January 14, 2013 @06:22PM (#42586199)

    Talk to a chemEng about the nightmare of aluminium refining.

    The process of making this fiber is to dissolve CNTs in a super-acid and then wet-spinning them into threads. Apparently the key to this process is the same one use to make Twaron [wikipedia.org].

    I'm not sure how this process has been adapted to make CNT fibres, but at least in the case of Twaron and Kevlar, dissolving the polymers in normal acids for powderization is a problem so they use a special patented process to do this which consists of NMP [wikipedia.org] and some other stuff. Then they have to wet-spin it into threads from a solution that's pretty much 100% acid (according to the wikipedia, they dissolve the polymer powder by mixing it with frozen 100% sulfuric acid in powder form and gently heating it).

    On the surface, it sounds to me that this is a similar level of PITA as refining aluminum...

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