A carbon nanotube product could replace copper in everything from wires to wind turbines
Spotted: Copper conducts electricity, bends easily, and is recyclable – and it is also a critical component in much renewable energy tech, from wind turbines and solar panels to electric vehicles. However, the copper mining process is anything but green – it is responsible for polluting water and destroying ecosystems. Now, Rice University spin-out DexMat has a solution. The company has developed carbon nanotube technology that could replace copper.
DexMat’s carbon nanotube product, Galvorn, is made by splitting hydrocarbons – such as those found in petroleum and natural gas. But instead of combusting hydrocarbons for fuel – which releases carbon into the atmosphere – the carbon is locked into the Galvorn structure. The material thus acts as a form of carbon storage.
The material is lightweight and has high electrical conductivity. This could translate into extended range and reduced fuel consumption in vehicles, and improved performance in batteries and energy storage. Galvorn could also replace the steel cores currently used in utility transmission lines, allowing utility towers to be moved farther apart and driving down the cost of installing new transmission lines. And because of their strength and durability, Galvorn fibres could be incorporated into buildings to extend their lifespan – and that is only the start.
Recently, DexMat received $3 million (around €2.7 million) in seed funding and the money will be used to commercialise the technology and explore potential applications, including the production of lighter wind turbine blades.
The flexibility and sustainability of carbon nanofibres mean that this futuristic material is being developed for a wide array of uses. Springwise has recently spotted innovations using this technology in everything from smart heart monitors to foldable solar cells.
Written By: Lisa Magloff