September 18, 2006

Condensed multi-wall carbon nanotubes could lead to superstrong fibers

(PDF) A paper on condensed multi-wall carbon nanotubes suggests that they could be an approach to making superstrong fibers suitable for space elevators Target of achieving 48.5+ GPa of tensile strength, good sheer strength and temperature resistance. Zhiping Xu, Lifeng Wang, and Quanshui Zheng of Tsinghua University, Beijing, China wrote the paper.


Kirk Sorensen said...

Don't hold your breath on space elevators. Even if we had the perfect nanotubes, there would still be the issue of how to build the thing. Edwards' approach is hopelessly backward--trying to build the elevator from the ground up is the worst possible scheme, because you're trying to build the elevator from the weakest point.

And then there's the other pesky issues--how to connect a 100 kg, 100,000 km nanotube strand to all the others; how to protect the nanotubes against erosion from atomic oxygen without hopelessly burdening them or weakening their strength; what possible market might bear the costs of building the monstrous elevator; crawling along the elevator for two weeks to get to GEO; getting an asteroid to serve as the countermass; protecting the fiber structure against micrometeorites and orbital debris; getting the only two locations on the equator where the elevator can be built that are stable (they're both in deep water), etc, etc, etc...

bw said...

Thanks for the comment Kirk.

Let me say that I think earth based space elevators are not the best idea.

Longer skyhook orbital tethers make sense to me as a top stage for hypersonic planes. there are other possiblities such as the magbeam and laser array launch

The space elevator could also work for the moon and mars.

I like the space pier for earth.

As to the earth based space plan, the one I remember reading for deployment.(several hundred page pdf) The plan of getting the space elevator built was to get strands into orbit and then to fly one end down where it would get attached. Then more and more strands and ribbons would get pulled to follow the original to get more thickness.