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Candle soot could power electric car batteries: Indian researchers

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Hyderabad, Oct 8 Burning a candle could be all that it takes to make an inexpensive but powerful electric car battery, researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology in Hyderabad have found.

The research revealed that candle soot could be used to power the kind of lithium-ion battery that is used in plug-in hybrid electric cars.

“We are very excited about the results. This new approach is very easy and the costs involved are minimal — it would make battery production cheaper,” said Chandra Sharma, one of the study authors.

Sharma estimated that one hybrid car would need ten kg of carbon soot, which would be deposited in about an hour using candles.

Their discovery opens up the possibilities of using carbon in more powerful batteries, driving down the cost of portable power.

Lithium-ion batteries power many devices, from smartphones and digital cameras all the way up to cars and even aircraft.

The batteries work by having two electrically-charged materials suspended in a liquid to produce a current.

Carbon is used as one of those materials in smaller batteries, but for bigger, more powerful batteries — such as those used in electric cars — carbon is not suitable because of its structure, which cannot produce the required current density.

In the new study, Sharma and Manohar Kakunuri found that because of the shape and configuration of the tiny carbon nanoparticles, the carbon in candle soot is suitable for use in bigger batteries.

What is more, because the soot could be produced quickly and easily, it is a scalable approach to making batteries.

When a candle burns, it gives off clouds of black soot made of carbon.

The researchers looked at the soot collected from the tip of a candle flame and from the middle of the flame and compared the size, shape and structure of the carbon.

The results showed that the burning process forms nanoparticles of carbon that are 30-40 nanometres across and are joined together in an interconnected network.

They also found that the soot recovered from the tip of a candle flame, which burns at 1400 degrees Celsius, has fewer impurities like wax, making it perform better as an electrical conductor.

In tests, the researchers found the soot effective as a conducting material in a battery.

The researchers now plan to develop a candle soot battery to test the technology further.

The findings appeared in the journal Electrochimica Acta.

(IANS)

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Arctic permafrost may unleash carbon within decades: NASA

Plants remove carbon dioxide from the air during photosynthesis, so increased plant growth means less carbon in the atmosphere

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NASA to release two missions focused on moon soon in 2022. Pixabay
NASA positive about next planet-hunting mission. Pixabay
  • Permafrost in Northern Arctic can potentially become a permanent source of Carbon
  • It was previously thought to be safe from the effects of Global Warming
  • Rising temperature in the Arctic can cause severe carbon emissions

Permafrost in the coldest northern Arctic — formerly thought to be at least temporarily shielded from global warming by its extreme environment — could thaw enough to become a permanent source of carbon to the atmosphere in a few decades, warns a NASA-led study. This will happen in this century, with the peak transition occurring in 40 to 60 years, said the study.

Permafrost in Northern Arctic can become a permanent source of carbon in this century itself, according to NASA. Wikimedia Commons
Permafrost in Northern Arctic can become a permanent source of carbon in this century itself, according to NASA. Wikimedia Commons

Permafrost is soil that has remained frozen for years or centuries under topsoil. It contains carbon-rich organic material, such as leaves, that froze without decaying, NASA said in a statement on Tuesday.

As rising Arctic air temperatures cause permafrost to thaw, the organic material decomposes and releases its carbon to the atmosphere in the form of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane.

The researchers calculated that as thawing continues, by the year 2300, total carbon emissions from the coldest northern Arctic will be 10 times as much as all human-produced fossil fuel emissions in 2016.

Warmer, more southerly permafrost regions will not become a carbon source until the end of the 22nd century, even though they are thawing now, said the study led by scientist Nicholas Parazoo of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

That is because other changing Arctic processes will counter the effect of thawing soil in these regions.

The finding that the colder region would transition sooner than the warmer one came as a surprise, according to Parazoo. The researchers used data on soil temperatures in Alaska and Siberia and a numerical model that calculates changes in carbon emissions as plants grow and permafrost thaws in response to climate change.

They assessed when the Arctic will transition to a carbon source instead of the carbon-neutral area it is today — with some processes removing about as much carbon from the atmosphere as other processes emit.

World is under threat due to Global Warming. Wikimedia Commons

They divided the Arctic into two regions of equal size, a colder northern region and a warmer, more southerly belt encircling the northern region. There is far more permafrost in the northern region than in the southern one.

Over the course of the model simulations, northern permafrost lost about five times more carbon per century than southern permafrost.

The southern region transitioned more slowly in the model simulations, Parazoo said, because plant growth increased much faster than expected in the south.

Also Read: Global warming portends ill for India’s flourishing Dairy sector: Experts

Plants remove carbon dioxide from the air during photosynthesis, so increased plant growth means less carbon in the atmosphere.

According to the model, as the southern Arctic grows warmer, increased photosynthesis will balance increased permafrost emissions until the late 2100s. IANS