If we can come up with enough graphite, the power grid of the 21st century might become carbon based. At least according to the latest theoretical research finding by scientists collaborating at Rice, Hong Kong Polytechnic and Tsinghua universities. While this is definitely more next decade than this, this opens the prospect that over the 21st century, existing power grids the world over might get replaced by super-efficient, lightweight, nano-carbon/graphene power grids. That's a lot of long term demand for graphite.
While there’s many a slip twixt cusp and lip, this new theoretical development has big implications for many sectors, not just graphite. The aluminium and copper cable sectors would be the major losers to a 21st century nano-carbon grid. Our arriving new carbon age gets more interesting with each passing month, and will I suspect, be a leading driver of the eventual economic recovery of the developed world.
Perfect Nanotube Could Be Grown One Meter Long, 50,000 Times Thinner Than a Human Hair
ScienceDaily (June 19, 2012) — At the right temperature, with the right catalyst, there's no reason a perfect single-walled carbon nanotube 50,000 times thinner than a human hair can't be grown a meter long.
That calculation is one result of a study by collaborators at Rice, Hong Kong Polytechnic and Tsinghua universities who explored the self-healing mechanism that could make such extraordinary growth possible. That's important to scientists who see high-quality carbon nanotubes as critical to advanced materials and, if they can be woven into long cables, power distribution over the grid of the future.
The report published online by Physical Review Letters is by Rice theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson; Feng Ding, an adjunct assistant professor at Rice and an assistant professor at Hong Kong Polytechnic; lead author Qinghong Yuan, a postdoctoral researcher at Hong Kong Polytechnic; and Zhiping Xu, a professor of engineering mechanics at Tsinghua and former postdoctoral researcher at Rice.