Posted Jul 9th 2010 9:05AM
Researchers at Washington State University have made a discovery they're calling "the most condensed form of energy storage outside of nuclear energy." And if they're right, it could one day lead to super-energy-dense batteries. The process uses tools and materials that sound like things Lex Luthor or a Bond villian might have laying around in the basement.
Ever heard of a diamond anvil, for instance? A diamond anvil is apparently a tiny chamber in which incredibly high pressures can be created. So, the WSU researchers put some xenon difluoride inside a diamond anvil and cranked the pressure up to a million atmospheres. What happened next was really cool. The molecules of the xenon difluoride started clustering up under the tremendous pressure.
We're picturing a bunch of dominoes lying on a kitchen table that are suddenly pushed together into a pile. That may not be entirely accurate, but bear with us. Where the potential battery tech comes into play is in that new, bunched-up domino compound. All the mechanical energy from the squishing gets converted into chemical energy stored in the bonds between the jammed-up molecules.
We're not sure how much energy it takes to crush xenon difluoride versus how much energy it holds, and we're not sure how prevalent diamond anvils are, but it's a cool technology at the very least.
[Source: Popular Science]