FLIGHT WEIGHT MAGNETS USING CARBON NANOTUBES
The motivation for the Phase I effort to use carbon nanotubes for application to magnets in space was based on published reports that their current carrying capacity was 10,000 times that of other superconductors and that their mechanical strength was 100 times that of steel on a mass basis. In phase I, we investigated the properties of this amazing new material and concluded the original premise was substantially correct, although some details remain to be investigated and a whole new suite of tools and machinery are required. In Phase II, we are proposing to advance this technology to the point of winding a nanotube magnet coil, testing it and delivering it to NASA/MSFC. The main thrusts of the program include some more definitive measurements of superconducting properties as a function of temperature, magnetic field and mechanical strain. In parallel efforts, tools will be developed to wind the carbon nanotube coils, attach electrical leads to them and test their performance. We will update the conceptual design for a NASA magnet for an MHD disk generator using carbon nanotube conductors and perform sufficient economic analyses to determine the economic feasibility of this application of carbon nanotubes.
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