New Carbon Nano Structure Made from Diamond Nano Threads for Energy Storage

A group of scientists from the QUT Center for Materials Science in Australia has proposed the design of a new carbon nanostructure made from diamond nano threads (DNT) that could be used for mechanical energy storage, wearable technologies, and biomedical applications.

Led by Dr. Haifei Zhan, the team has successfully modeled the mechanical energy storage and release capabilities of a diamond nano thread (DNT) bundle.  A DNT bundle is a collection of ultra-thin one-dimensional carbon threads that can store energy when twisted or stretched.

Dr. Zhan said, “Similar to a compressed coil or children’s wind-up toy, energy can be released as the twisted bundle unravels.”

“If you can make a system to control the power supplied by the nano thread bundle, it would be a safer and more stable energy storage solution for many applications,” he added.

Talking about the chemical storage systems, Dr. Zhan said that at high temperatures, the chemical storage systems can explode or can become non-responsive at low temperatures.

“These can also leak upon failure, causing chemical pollution,” he added.

Explaining the mechanical energy storage systems, Dr. Zhan said, “Mechanical energy storage systems don’t have these risks, so make them more suited to potential applications within the human body. Carbon nano thread bundles could be made into twist-spun yarn-based artificial muscles that respond to electrical, chemical, or photonic excitations.”

According to the press release, the research team found that the nano-thread bundle’s energy density was 1.76 MJ per kilogram, which was 4-5 orders higher than a conventional steel spring, and up to three times higher compared to Li-ion batteries.

Dr. Zhan said, “The nano-thread bundles could be used in next-generation power transmission lines, aerospace electronics, and field emission, batteries, intelligent textiles and structural composites such as building materials.”

Research findings were published by Nature Communications in the paper ‘Ultra-High Density Mechanical Energy Storage with Carbon Nano thread Bundle’ and form the basis of Dr. Zhan’s ARC Discovery project – ‘A Novel Multilevel Modelling Framework to Design Diamond Nano thread Bundles.’

Dr. Zhan and his research team would spend the next two to three years building the control mechanism for the system to store energy – the system which controls twisting and stretching of the nano thread bundle stated the press release.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA) recently published a report showing how electricity storage technologies can be used for several applications in the power sector, ranging from e-mobility and behind-the-meter (BTM) applications to utility-scale.  According to the study, utility-scale batteries can enable a greater feed-in of renewables into the grid by firming renewable energy output, previously reported by Mercom.