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Combustible carbon nanotubes give off electricity, make really tiny fires (video)

Tim Stevens

Need a more efficient heat sink? Try a carbon nanotube. Artificial muscle? Nanotubes. Space Ladder? Self-cleaning windows? Incredibly small bowl of soup? You get the picture. What can't carbon nanotubes do? We're not sure just yet, but even power generation is not beyond their grasp. Apparently when you coat the wee straws in butane and light one end on fire it creates a thermal wave, propelling electrons along to create a current. It's not a lot of current on a single smoldering tube, but scale things up and the potential is said to be 100 times greater than an equivalent weight lithium-ion battery. Of course, you don't have to light a LiOn cell on fire to get the juice out of it (usually), but we're guessing scientists will create a way to make that happen in a safe, controlled manner. Until then, check out one burning in super slow-motion after the break, and remember: only you can prevent nanofires.

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