South Korean scientists converted used-cigarette butts into high-performing material

Scientists convert used-cigarette butts into energy storage device

11:22 AM, 7th August 2014
South Korean scientists converted used-cigarette butts into a high-performing material
Scientists convert used-cigarette butts into energy storage device.

LONDON, UK: A group of scientists from South Korea have converted used-cigarette butts into a high-performing material that could be integrated into computers, handheld devices, electrical vehicles and wind turbines to store energy. The researchers have demonstrated the material’s superior performance compared to commercially available carbon, graphene and carbon nanotubes.

It is hoped the material can be used to coat the electrodes of super capacitors - electrochemical components that can store extremely large amounts of electrical energy - whilst also offering a solution to the growing environmental problem caused by used-cigarette filters. It is estimated that as many as 5.6 trillion used-cigarettes or 766,571 metric tonne are deposited into the environment worldwide every year. In their study, the researchers demonstrated that the cellulose acetate fibres that cigarette filters are mostly composed of could be transformed into a carbon-based material using a simple, one-step burning technique called pyrolysis. As a result of this burning process, the resulting carbon-based material contained a number of tiny pores, increasing its performance as a super capacitive material.

“A high-performing super capacitor material should have a large surface area, which can be achieved by incorporating a large number of small pores into the material. Our study has shown that used-cigarette filters can be transformed into a high-performing carbon-based material using a simple one step process, which simultaneously offers a green solution to meeting the energy demands of society. Numerous countries are developing strict regulations to avoid the trillions of toxic and non-biodegradable used-cigarette filters that are disposed of into the environment each year - our method is just one way of achieving this,” said Jongheop Yi, Professor, Seoul National University.

Carbon is the most popular material that super capacitors are composed of, due to its low cost, high surface area, high electrical conductivity and long term stability. Scientists around the world are currently working towards improving the characteristics of super capacitors - such as energy density, power density and cycle stability - whilst also trying to reduce production costs.

“A combination of different pore sizes ensures that the material has high power densities, which is an essential property in a super capacitor for the fast charging and discharging,” added Jongheop Yi.

Once fabricated, the carbon-based material was attached to an electrode and tested in a three-electrode system to see how well the material could adsorb electrolyte ions (charge) and then release electrolyte ions (discharge). The material stored a higher amount of electrical energy than commercially available carbon and also had a higher amount of storage compared to graphene and carbon nanotubes.

 

© TimesOfIndia News

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