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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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First Carbon Rich Asteroid Found in Kuiper Belt

The researchers found that the asteroid's reflectance spectrum -- the specific pattern of wavelengths of light reflected from an object -- was different to that of similar small Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs), which typically have uninteresting, featureless spectra that reveal little information about their composition.

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This object, designated 2004 EW95, likely formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and has been flung billions of kilometres from its origin to its current home in the Kuiper Belt, the study said.
Astronomers find first carbon-rich asteroid in Kuiper Belt, pixabay

Astronomers have discovered an unusual carbon-rich asteroid in the Kuiper Belt — the first of its kind to be confirmed in the cold outer reaches of the solar system.

This object, designated 2004 EW95, likely formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and has been flung billions of kilometres from its origin to its current home in the Kuiper Belt, the study said.

The researchers found that the asteroid’s reflectance spectrum — the specific pattern of wavelengths of light reflected from an object — was different to that of similar small Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs), which typically have uninteresting, featureless spectra that reveal little information about their composition.

“The reflectance spectrum of 2004 EW95 was clearly distinct from the other observed outer Solar System objects,” explained lead author Tom Seccull of Queen’s University Belfast in Britain

“It looked enough of a weirdo for us to take a closer look,” Seccull added.

In particular, these models suggest that the Kuiper Belt -- a cold region beyond the orbit of Neptune -- should contain a small fraction of rocky bodies from the inner solar system, such as carbon-rich asteroids, referred to as carbonaceous asteroids.
representational image, pixabay

Theoretical models of the early days of our solar system predict that after the gas giants formed they rampaged through the solar system, ejecting small rocky bodies from the inner solar system to far-flung orbits at great distances from the Sun.

In particular, these models suggest that the Kuiper Belt — a cold region beyond the orbit of Neptune — should contain a small fraction of rocky bodies from the inner solar system, such as carbon-rich asteroids, referred to as carbonaceous asteroids.

The new study, published in The Astrophysical Journal, presented evidence for the first reliably-observed carbonaceous asteroid in the Kuiper Belt, providing strong support for these theoretical models of our solar system’s troubled youth.

Also Read: NASA Chief: Moon Mission a Step Forward to Reach Mars 

After measurements from multiple instruments at European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), the team of astronomers was able to measure the composition of the object.

The results suggest that it originally formed in the inner solar system and must have since migrated outwards. (IANS)

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