The advancement of material science over the past decade has allowed the scientists to create two structures of carbon namely carbon nanotubes and carbon nanowires. Nanowires are small wires with a diameter as small as 1 nanometre. These are being used to build tiny transistors with higher efficiency for computer chips and other electronic devices. In the last couple of years the carbon nanotubes have somewhat overshadowed the nanowires. A carbon nanotube is a cylinder full of carbon atoms. To put it into simpler words, nanotubes are simply sheet of carbon atoms in hexagonal shape. If this sheet is rolled into a form of a cylinder, you have a carbon nanotube. The properties of this carbon nanotube are based on how the sheet is rolled. Although they are formed from the same graphite sheet, their properties are dependent on the variations in length, thickness, type of helical structure and number of layers.
Carbon nanotubes with their amazing properties in terms of strength, thermal and electrical are composed to have a significant impact on future material sciences, electronics and nanotechnology. Due to their specialized structures, Carbon nanotubes can be used in creating very thin energy storage devices which could provide a new dimension and replace the capacitors and batteries which exist now. Research in carbon nanotubes is moving ahead discovering new forms, applications and Solar thermal storage is a result of one such research.
TYPES OF CARBON NANOTUBES
Single wall carbon nanotubes (SWNT)
A sheet of graphite rolled into a tube with a singular cylindrical wall is called a SWNT. These are normally capped off at the ends. They have a diameter of close to 1nm. However they come in diffe...
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...nd the length of time they could store it and these can be controlled independently.
The basic principle of thermo chemical storage of solar energy is that it uses a molecule whose structure changes on exposure to sunlight and which can remain stable in that form for as long. On disturbing it with a stimulus or a catalyst or a small temperature change or a flash of light, it can quickly regain its original shape releasing its stored energy in the form of heat.
The prime advantage of this approach to harnessing solar energy is that the process is simplified by combining energy gathering and storage into a single step. This process is robust, stable and cheap. One limitation of this process is, while this is useful for heating applications, production of electricity would require another step using thermoelectric devices or producing steam to run a generator.
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