Portable power sources

Year 2007
Project team

Carol Livermore and Timothy Havel

Storing energy in carbon nanotubes

Nobody questions the need for smaller, more efficient and longer lasting portable power sources. In the United States alone, the market for batteries grows at six percent annually and is projected to hit $15 billion by 2009. But today’s battery technology largely depends on chemical reactions — leading to devices that degrade over time or possibly even malfunction in dangerous “side reactions,” as evidenced by the recent recall of millions of lithium ion batteries that could overheat in laptop computers. One potential solution to this bottleneck is storing energy in a dense network of ultra-thin, microscopic filaments known as carbon nanotubes. This project focuses on the design and computer modeling of a single nanospring-driven generator and storage device. Detailed computer modeling estimates will determine the amount of energy that can be stored in a nanospring device, and a design and model for a generator and storage device with optimal performance will be created. Ultimately, prototypes may be built.