NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The carbon energy cycle is killing your grandchildren. But could carbon also form part of the cure?
There are reasons to believe it can. New forms of carbon are coming into industrial production for a host of properties -- low weight, tensile strength, electrical conductivity -- that green energy production is looking for right now.
Three main types of carbon are under discussion:
Carbon fiber, literally a thread of carbon bonded in crystals aligned along the long end of the fiber. It's sometimes called graphite fiber or carbon graphite.
Carbon nanotubes, huge molecules arranged like a tube with carbon atoms interlocked in a hexagonal frame; and
Graphene, the same frame laid in a single plane.
Carbon fiber is furthest along, says Ross Kozarsky, a senior analyst for Lux Research in Boston. Its high cost had, until now, left it isolated in specialty applications like bicycles and jet airplanes, but its cost may fall 50% over this decade, leading to new applications.Like car bodies. Carbon-fiber car parts are much lighter than metal. If there is hope for cars getting 54 mpg in 2025, the CAFE standard set by the government, it lies in greater use of carbon fiber.