The article China has strongest fibre that can haul 160 elephants – and a space elevator? came out today in the SCMP, and I would like to find out how much the cable would weigh. But I'm not sure if the article contains enough information to calculate it, and so I'm hoping someone can help me figure this out.
Here's what I know. 1 cubic centimeter of the fibre can hold 800 tonnes and weighs 1.6 grams and has a strength of 80 gigapascals. I also know that a space elevator is about 36 megameter long.
Here are most of the relevant numbers from the article, but I'm not 100% sure if there's something else there that could be helpful:
But so far, the space elevator idea has remained in the realm of physical and mathematical models because there has been no material strong enough to make the super-light, ultra-strong cables needed.
Those cables would need to have tensile strength – to withstand stretching – of no less than 7 gigapascals, according to Nasa. In fact, the US space agency launched a global competition in 2005 to develop such a material, with a US$2 million prize attached. No one claimed the prize.
Now, the Tsinghua team, led by Wei Fei, a professor with the Department of Chemical Engineering, says their latest carbon nanotube fibre has tensile strength of 80 gigapascals.
Carbon nanotubes are cylindrical molecules made up of carbon atoms that are linked in hexagonal shapes with diameters as small as 1 nanometre. They have the highest known tensile strength of any material – theoretically up to 300 gigapascals