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Science Forum

Science Forum

  1. 27 Jun '13 14:11 / 4 edits
    One of my many prediction of the future is that carbon wire will replace copper wire and then, just possibly much later on, assuming cost-effective room temperature superconductivity is even possible (which it might not be), some kind of superconductor will replace carbon wire.
    Well, it now looks like at least my first prediction is probably going to come true once they have overcome the main technical hurdle of improving carbon wire conductivity, which they will surely achieve eventually and I don't think too long into the future:

    http://phys.org/news/2013-06-carbon-candy-floss-energy-blackouts.html

    here are just a few selected quotes from that link

    “...
    Wires made from carbon are 10 times lighter and up to 30 times stronger than copper. The carbon wires are corrosion resistant and can carry a much higher current. Additionally, losses in transmission efficiency with increasing temperature are significantly smaller than in traditional copper wires.
    ...
    ...
    Wires made from carbon are 10 times lighter and up to 30 times stronger than copper. The carbon wires are corrosion resistant and can carry a much higher current. Additionally, losses in transmission efficiency with increasing temperature are significantly smaller than in traditional copper wires.


    The main technical hurdle which must be overcome in order to make carbon wiring a practical reality is improving conductivity. At the moment, the CNTs wires produced by Dr Koziol's lab are less conductive than copper. Each individual nanotube is just one millimetre long, and at each junction in a long wire, losses in conductivity occur.
    Dr Koziol and his collaborators are working to achieve at least comparable levels of conductivity to copper in order to accelerate the commercial development of carbon wiring, by both improving the formation process to make significantly longer nanotubes, and by using chemical methods to enable better connections between individual nanotubes. The team is also working on new methods of power transmission where junction resistance in CNT wires is no longer critical.

    In the meantime, there are preparations for a large, multi-industrial project to start at the end of the year which will be an important intermediary step: a hybrid carbon-copper wire in which the carbon is dispersed throughout the copper, making the copper lighter and stronger, while further reducing transmission losses.
    ...”
  2. 27 Jun '13 15:22
    Will the carbon wires have lower or higher resale value? One big problem here in Africa, is that copper wires get stolen for the copper value. In many places they have had to replace the copper with something else, I am not sure what.
    I am not even sure what our normal overhead power lines are made of, I don't think its copper.
    For data obviously fibre will slowly replace copper.
  3. 27 Jun '13 15:33
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Will the carbon wires have lower or higher resale value? One big problem here in Africa, is that copper wires get stolen for the copper value. In many places they have had to replace the copper with something else, I am not sure what.
    I am not even sure what our normal overhead power lines are made of, I don't think its copper.
    For data obviously fibre will slowly replace copper.
    That's not a problem unique to south africa...
    Half the time our (UK) trains are delayed due to "signalling problems" it's because some b****r has stolen the copper wire.

    I don't know, but I suspect that carbon nano-fibre wires would have less resale value as I suspect that it would be harder to convert carbon wires into anything else without sophisticated equipment.
    You couldn't just melt them down and resell for example.