Cigarette butts can offer ‘green’ energy storage solution

| Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 09:48
First Published |

Cigarette butts can offer ‘green’ energy storage solution

With used cigarette butts, South Korean scientists have developed a high-performing material that can be used to store energy and at the same free the environment from the toxicity of the cigarette filters.

The new material could be integrated into computers, handheld devices, electric vehicles and wind turbines to store energy, the study noted.

“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 for meeting the energy demands of society,” said study co-author Jongheop Yi, professor at Seoul National University.

“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,” Yi pointed out.

This material outperforms commercially available carbon, graphene and carbon nanotubes and may someday be used to coat the electrodes of supercapacitors: electrochemical components that can store extremely large amounts of electrical energy, the researchers noted.

Scientists around the world are working to improve the characteristics of supercapacitors — such as their energy density, power density and cycle stability — while trying to reduce production costs.

In their study, the researchers demonstrated that the cellulose acetate fibres found in most cigarette filters could be transformed into a carbon-based material using a simple, one-step burning technique called pyrolysis.

The resulting material contained a number of tiny pores, increasing its performance as a supercapacitive material. The findings were reported in the journal Nanotechnology.

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