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Old 03-20-2013, 08:25 AM   #1
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Cool Graphene

Sounds interesting:
Quote :
...
Graphene, a two-dimensional crystal of pure carbon, is a superlative material. It is the thinnest and strongest substance known to science – about 100 times stronger than steel by weight. A square metre of graphene, a thousand times thinner than paper, made into a hammock would be strong enough to cradle a 4kg cat, but weigh no more than one of its whiskers. It is a good conductor of electricity, is stretchable and yet is almost transparent. It conducts heat better than any other known substance. It acts as a barrier to the smallest atom of gas – helium – and yet allows water vapour to pass through.
...
The potential uses for graphene appear almost limitless. They range from new types of flexible electronics that could be worn on clothes or folded up into a pocket, to a new generation of very small computers, hyper-efficient solar panels and super-fast mobile phones. Yet at the heart of graphene is a honeycomb structure of carbon atoms – described as “atomic chickenwire”. Carbon is the basic element of life, which means that graphene could be the focus of a new industrial revolution based on electronic components that are biodegradable and sustainable. If there was ever a building material for a new, green economy, graphene could be it. ...
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/sc...e-8539743.html
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Old 03-20-2013, 09:56 AM   #2
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Graphene is very neat stuff, but there's this really big caveat. Silicon isn't the semiconductor of choice because of its great electrical properties, but because we know how to micro-manipulate it with photolithography - making complex things as simple as printing in a photo lab (almost). No such tech exists for graphene at the moment.

I have a bunch. It's not hard to make in the first place - there are a few ways, one of which is as simple as putting a hot metal plate in a vacuum, and letting it decompose some hydrocarbon (most work) on its face. You get stacked graphene layers up to about 1/4" thick, which cleave very easily. The temperature conductivity is large in one plane - and low in the others, which anyone with fingers and an ice cube can find out in a second. It also doesn't "like" curved magnetic field lines, and will float above 4 NeFeB magnets about 1/8" of an inch if you set them up as a square, with alternating poles. (Edit - makes a neat bearing...)

But no one can actually *make* a computer with this stuff yet. Looks cool for various coatings, specialized stuff. That's the "if" that's always in those articles, stated or otherwise. And that's what I watch, not having RTFA yet. It's neat, delicate mechanically, fairly inert chemically - hard to selectively "dope"...I'm waiting for that kind of stuff to get out of the "if someday" range.
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Old 03-20-2013, 10:50 AM   #3
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Be neat when they can use graphene in a 3D printer
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Old 03-20-2013, 11:25 AM   #4
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...they forgot to mention batteries/ultracapacitors made of that stuff. That would be huge. Again, the problem is, it only works as a proof of concept, on atomic scales, and only on some lab benches (if that, some of that stuff is still pure theory).
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Old 03-20-2013, 11:56 AM   #5
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You'd have to synthesize it on the spot (there are chemical processes that might work there) to retain the special properties of long-range perfect-order crystals, though. And you have these cool anisotropic properties you can't easily apply the way you want to a complex shape with current tech. It could happen - and if it does, those are the guys who make the money. Carbon is cheap.

My point really was, while you can manipulate this stuff in small monoatomic layers with the current high-tech version of tweezers, there's no way to mass fabricate it.
For complexity, a 3-d printer-class thingie is a huge step backwards compared to photolith....mm vs nm.
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Old 03-20-2013, 03:24 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by bushi View Post:
...they forgot to mention batteries/ultracapacitors made of that stuff. That would be huge. Again, the problem is, it only works as a proof of concept, on atomic scales, and only on some lab benches (if that, some of that stuff is still pure theory).
Check out Eestor as they have had patents for this technology for years. The energy complex will not let any of this technology reach the public as we must be kept paying for taxes on, and for the dollar through oil purchases.
This company was suppose to use the technology in cars years ago (research Zenn) but the tech got scooped up by lockheed Martin (to power exoskelital army stuff). Do some research and you will discover that any technology that may improve energy independence from oil will be motherfuckered until it's bankrupted, shot in the head and swept under a dusty rug.

Oil trumps everything else even though the tech is well over 100 years old, outdated and could be replaced into clean burning energies.

Problem is, the last time I looked, the Dollar isn't priced in Solar or Nuclear energy.
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Old 03-20-2013, 09:13 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by stockjockee View Post:
Check out Eestor as they have had patents for this technology for years. The energy complex will not let any of this technology reach the public as we must be kept paying for taxes on, and for the dollar through oil purchases.
This company was suppose to use the technology in cars years ago (research Zenn) but the tech got scooped up by lockheed Martin (to power exoskelital army stuff). Do some research and you will discover that any technology that may improve energy independence from oil will be motherfuckered until it's bankrupted, shot in the head and swept under a dusty rug.

Oil trumps everything else even though the tech is well over 100 years old, outdated and could be replaced into clean burning energies.

Problem is, the last time I looked, the Dollar isn't priced in Solar or Nuclear energy.
My Republic of Texas neighbor worked for EEStor in Cedar Park for several years. It turned into a HUGE money pit. Googling it I see they are on the cusp of ANOTHER huge auto breakthrough, just like last year, and the year before, and the year before, etc. My neighbor did have a cool, twenty foot long electric motorcycle.

My take on this is that we will drive this baby into the wall. We don't have the rare metals necessary for batteries. period. The PTB will continue to promise energy independence. until soon we really will be energy independent.

PS I agree with all you said.
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Old 03-21-2013, 06:10 AM   #8
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..therefore, it would be so important to have nanocarbon tech running the show with the next gen. batts - as Fusor said, carbon is cheap and abundant. Yeah, I also agree that the battery tech is "on the verge of the breakthrough", every year, since I started following that stuff (and it was way back around year 2000). Since then, I've heard opinions from people much more expert on the matter than my humble self, that the same "verge of a break-through", is the state of the art ever since '70ies. So each time I hear that the company X, Y, or Z is on the verge of breakthrough with the new battery tech, that will solve our long-range electric vehicles, or renewable energy storage, I first give it a solid yawn, before getting into the details. Don't get me wrong, I would not wish for anything more, than cheap, robust, long-life, fastcharge/discharge, high power density, non-toxic batts, made of abundant elements - I am just not holding my breath...
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Old 03-21-2013, 10:03 AM   #9
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No supercap has even a decent fraction of the energy density of almost any battery, even in theory or lab bench tests. They're just real good for capacitors. There is much more energy in covalent or ionic bonds than twisting existing molecules - in a battery they're being taken apart and put together - in a cap, you're just using them as a spring (essentially, study dielectrics) at obviously lower energy per molecule than it takes to put one together, or take it apart (eg bond breaking and formation).

There ARE uses for supercaps if they get good enough to handle peaks, in parallel with a real battery that has lousy peak performance. But it's a niche.

Alt energy attracts more scam artists than any other industry - plenty of suckers with stars in their eyes to fleece, and no real knowledge of how things work, just a desire to believe. Sadly.

I'll just stick with my paid-off, fully off-grid solar system and batteries that work, and my Volt, thanks.

Anything that works can't really be suppressed, though the astroturfers try very hard.
If it makes money, the energy companies are all over it - most of my panels were made by BP, of all people. Solar is growing. Wind is growing, tidal power is growing.
I don't see the suppression being effective.

Usually the scams aren't as obvious as Rossi's E-cat, or Solyndra but they are out there, and give the business a bad name. They all fail on their own, they don't need any help if you are a felon-faker in the alt energy business like Rossi, or a spendthrift with other people's money like Solyndra - they fail on their own. The real stuff - it gets adopted.

There's an entire *legit* alt energy industry, people buy stuff, sometimes it's hard to find out how many are completely off-grid and happy...because of the type of people who are - they don't leave a lotta tracks to monitor. Like me.

Edit: don't hold your breath on a true breakthrough on chemical battery tech. We kinda already know the entire periodic table and we are already using the lightest and most electro-positive or negative materials, and getting good density of active material. Unless you go past chemistry, it's just "not there to be had". Sure, if size and weight are not an issue, there are some things coming down the pike - say, Vanadium redox - but not for the main uses of oil - portable high density energy.
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Old 03-21-2013, 10:16 AM   #10
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Graphene would be suitable for a space elevator cable, too:
http://bigthink.com/videos/elevator-to-the-stars
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Old 03-21-2013, 10:44 AM   #11
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Graphene seems to be that material which holds a shitload of potential, but is difficult to build in to the nano configurations needed for most things. That said, I wonder why we haven't seen any really substantive developments with this stuff. Apparently the parent material is quite abundant and quite cheap as well, so I am guessing the processing side is significantly more difficult than the proponents would have us believe.

Either way, if they allow some mega corporation to patent this shit, say bye-bye to any sort of savings or any real cost benefits for you and I, because they will rape this shit for all it's got and then some.
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Old 03-21-2013, 11:34 AM   #12
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NASA, among others, has fooled with carbon nanotubes (far stronger than graphene in most axes - that elephant on a pencil point line was untrue/incorrect) as a replacement for the glass in fiberglass, or the carbon fiber (regular old carbon, fibers, primarily) and got no - zero - strength improvement. So they ditched it, while of course, still watching for progress. NASA tries a lot of crazy stuff - good for them, but that doesn't mean it will work all that often.

Most people don't have the sense of scale required to understand this stuff that works on a nano-scale. Atoms are tiny. Creating a nanorod/tube more than a mm - zillions of atoms - perfectly (any void reminds one of the weakest link in a chain, and here it really matters - one atom out of place and its toast) - hasn't been done. Might be possible with more or less existing science when the tech catches up - but that would be very expensive. Now, figure out how many a space elevator would use, and they'd have to be at least feet long to provide the strength....it ain't happenin in our lives. If there was a perfect material, and it was cheap, it still ain't happenin. We could not afford (or would not allocate the resources to) just plain building it even if the stuff were free.
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Old 03-22-2013, 09:52 AM   #13
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Thanks for your input DCF.

I have been following alt energy and 'free energy' stories for a few years and have huge respect for your take on things because it seems that you actually understand material science at the cutting edge.

Just a real shame that you are correct and that there isnt some 'men in sheds' way to separate oxygen and hydrogen when they are hanging out in a water molecule ......

My future plans are much more based on what we know works than what we hope might work, as a result of your observations.
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Old 03-22-2013, 10:12 AM   #14
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Separating water into H2 and 02 isn't so hard, it just takes energy - the same amount you got from burning H2 in 02 in the first place plus more to cover losses due to electrode potentials. There's no free of the sort that gives you net energy going around the circle. You might get 80% efficiency both ways in ideal conditions, or 64% (.8^2).

Often precious metals are used for one or more of the electrodes - Pt was a choice in the past. Lots of work is being done to find something else that costs less and wastes less energy than Pt or Pt/Pd. Nickel oxide is one I read about just last week.

But still - you get a net energy loss breaking the bonds, and then burning the hydrogen, each time around the loop. Hydrogen is hard to store (ruins steel via embrittlement), extremely, stupidly flammable/explosive, and hard to buy for those reasons. I once had a hose of it pop off in my lab - instantly it was on fire like magic. My welding gas supplier can't carry it - too dangerous(!). That crap about a hydrogen economy was just smoke to keep us using oil till we solved that - It's actually one of the worse ways to store energy - if there's another way for the job, most other ways are better.
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Old 03-22-2013, 10:15 AM   #15
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Rblong,
I believe there is an Aussie firm that manufactures a carport that is constructed of solar panels. these panels distribute electricity to a set-up that splits water in to oxygen and hydrogen. The gas is then compressed and used to power a hydrogen car. sounds like a simple construct to me [a layman] but perhaps DC could point out any problems with the set up. One that sticks out in my mind would be the rate of production and the capacity of the storage vessel in the car/truck. That would seem to be the primary limitation. couple that with the fact that when you run out of hydrogen, you are getting towed back to the house instead of driving.
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Old 03-22-2013, 10:33 AM   #16
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just about the only sensible way to use hydrogen generated that way in a car, would be to use it as a fuel supplement, in your regular (but adapted) daily driver - there were scientific studies, showing better fuel efficiency when hydrogen was mixed in small amounts with regular fuel (about 5%-7%) - resulted in more complete combustion, smoother burn, and therefore improved mileage. But not enough improvement, to cover the energy costs of on-board electrolysis - you'd need an onboard hydrogen tank, to benefit, splitting water on the fly just wouldn't cut it. So that would PERHAPS fit that PV carport scenario - relatively small amounts produced/consumed. Other than that, just ask Fusor how big an array you need to have, to charge his Volt . And add to that losses, that inevitably occur during electrolysis . MAybe if that carport is the size of a quarter of a football field, than perhaps...
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Old 03-22-2013, 12:23 PM   #17
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There are several "solar carport" schemes out there. As it works out, both the capex and the net efficiency just charging the Volt wins hands down (factor of a small integer, not just a few percent).

Remember, compressing anything takes a lotta energy, most of which is wasted - look at what your compressor uses. In compression the gas heats, which is lost to the environment before use - a big fraction of the net energy (which came from electricity you had to make first, and you're probably using a cap start motor to drive the compressor with ~~80% efficiency in the motor, losses in the friction of the compressor rings and bearings etc).

Yes, mixing a bit of hydrogen - with other tuning involved - allows one to use a leaner gasoline mix (and better spark timing) and still get good combustion. But it takes so much (a few percent of what an engine breathes) to get the effect, that no way using a car alternator to electrolyse water makes up for the difference - car alternators are in general designed to be light and work over a wide range of rpms - far from ideal for efficiency. This is of course, run on shaft power you got at ~~ 30% efficiency from burning it and gasoline in the first place. One set of alternators I measured quantitatively had trouble getting to 50% shaft HP to electrical HP - it's not that you can't do better than that at the cost of better stuff and more weight but...payback time is either near-infinite or super-infinite (you lose, in other words). You do lose some HP out of the engine doing this - HP is very closely related to how much oxygen/second you can push through it - and now you're taking up more space with fuel, so less oxygen gets to the engine (I'd be pushing in the oxygen from elecrolysis too, though, to replace some of the air's nitrogen with and compensate that some). So a car manuf with a target HP has to make the engine bigger - and here we go with diminishing returns.

I tested some alternators, even re-wound a few, and had trouble getting 50 amps at 12v out of them with 5 shaft HP in. The sick-ass numbers were something like (best case) - 5 shaft HP is about 5 *745(w/hp) = 3275 watt equivalent shaft power in, and say 14 * 50 = 700w out. EG, about 20% conversion of expensive and valuable shaft power to electricity - and it's the alternator that gets how with wasted heat - I^R losses in the windings and eddy current losses, as well as diode losses. That's why they have a big fan on them - lighter and cheaper than iron and copper, and in a car, no one cares. I get to the high 80's (maybe low 90s%) using a WWII DC brush generator (that's hard to lift) off the same engine, though.
With the CAFE and EPA laws what they are - you've got to know that if that scheme really worked in practice, it'd be in every car on the road already - or even one new major car (not hobbyist or one-off stuff). Car companies have quite the incentive already built in. But they don't do it, and do know all this - because net-net - it's not "good-good".

It takes ~13kwh to charge the Volt for 50 mi range in summer, 35 in winter (or so).
If you want to charge it once a day, that's a couple hundred sq feet of panels.
At right around $1/watt, and in my case, average noon-eqivalent sun of 4.5 hrs/day (very deceptive, since I have a month of dark in winter, and almost always 8-9 hours a day of sun in summer) - you can do the math. Then you'd need inverters and probably batteries to handle the dumb car that can *only* charge at the full rate, about 3.5kw (you could make a better charger). In my case, I let it run off the house batteries some when the sun is behind a cloud, as you'd lose minutes in the charger reboot time every time otherwise - and the charger will cut out anyway if not fed full line volts (eg, it drags down the panels if there aren't enough).

Integrating it with the home system allows things like batteries, charge controllers, and inverters to be amortized across both. Stand-alone, the economics are iffy.

In my case, it makes sense integrated into the home system, as when I'm not charging the car, I can use the same energy source for other things and get extravagantly wasteful at that point. The car draws power like about 2 arc welders during a 4.5 hour charge from empty to full. So when we're not doing the car, we're running welders, mill, lathe etc off that power that would otherwise hit the ground wasted after the house batteries are full. You make hay while the sun shines...

And, it's shining today, but the house is already full, as is the car. As it turns out, there's a bunch of deadfall that needs to be chopped up and put on the woodpile, so we use the extra juice to run the electric chainsaw...and power will still fall on the ground, since the chainsaw doesn't use all that much..

If you pay the "normal" electric rates, about 10-12c/kwh, the Volt works out to equal to gasoline costing a buck a gallon in a car that gets ~40mpg.
Solar takes longer to amortize, but it just feels better along the way - worth it to me, not maybe everyone. For Canadians, even though the Volt doesn't do as well in the cold - it's a total no brainer, since they pay ~~5-6c/kwh for power.
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Old 12-04-2013, 07:40 AM   #18
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Noticed that Jim Rogers published a short comment on his blog about graphene:
Originally Posted by Jim Rogers :
Graphene is as important to the world as electricity, as the Internet
http://jimrogers-investments.blogspo...-internet.html

Makes you wonder if he isn't investing some money in the tech to bring it forward.
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