Scientists in South Korea have developed a new way to store energy that also offers a solution to a growing environmental problem
Reporting their findings in the IOP Publishing journal Nanotechnology, the research team successfully converted used cigarette butts into a high performing material that could be integrated into computers, handheld devices, electric vehicles and wind turbines to store energy.
According to the study, this material outperforms commercially available carbon, graphene and carbon nanotubes. It may someday be used to coat the electrodes of supercapacitors: electrochemical components that can store extremely large amounts of electrical energy.
“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,” says co-author Professor Jongheop Yi of 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,” adds Professor Yi.
Carbon is the most common material found in supercapacitors due to its low cost, high surface area, high electrical conductivity and long term stability. 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, Professor Yi and his colleagues 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.
“A high performing supercapacitor material should have a large surface area, which can be achieved by incorporating a large number of small pores into the material,” says Professor Yi. “A combination of different pore sizes ensures that the material has high power densities, which is an essential property in a supercapacitor.”
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 them (discharge). The material stored more electrical energy than commercially available carbon, graphene and carbon nanotubes.
“Our carbon-based material has the potential for use as an electrode material in lithium ion batteries, a catalyst-supporting material in fuel cells, and pollutant adsorbents,” says Professor Yi. “We hope our inventions will ultimately help reduce the environmental burden of cigarette butts while lowering the manufacturing cost of high quality carbon materials.”
USING CIGARETTE BUTTS TO COMBAT DENGUE
In addition to their energy storing potential, cigarette butts may one day be used to control dengue, one of the world’s most important mosquito-borne viral diseases.
The Latest on: Uses for cigarette butts
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The Latest on: Uses for cigarette butts
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Human activities such as dropping lit cigarettes, open burning and the use of engines or vehicles are responsible ... This is not the first time Manak gave out a fine for a lit cigarette butt being ... […]
- Driver receives $575 fine for throwing cigarette butt from car on June 11, 2019 at 12:06 am
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- B.C. police chief hands out $575 fine to driver who flicked lit cigarette butt on June 10, 2019 at 5:55 pm
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- Mousetraps, cigarette butts and bloodstains - guests tell of horrors inside The Britannia Hotel on June 7, 2019 at 9:30 pm
There was not much air in there because there was no air-con and the windowsill was full of cigarette butts." Mr Russell said they made a ... The shower head had damp on it so we could not use it for ... […]
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- Smokers set to be fined $500 for tossing cigarette butts on June 6, 2019 at 5:15 pm
Smokers who toss their cigarette butts on the ground in Canberra could soon be fined ... Car registration details are going to be used, and there are plans to install more closed circuit television to ... […]
- Vancouver launches pocket ashtray pilot to cut down on littered cigarette butts on June 6, 2019 at 11:51 am
The pocket ashtrays are reusable and city officials hope people will use them to keep their cigarette butts in, empty them when they get to a trash can and then reuse them for their next cigarette. To ... […]
- ACT littering penalties to rise: $500 for a cigarette butt on June 6, 2019 at 3:00 am
Canberra smokers who litter their cigarette butts in public places could soon face a $500 fine ... Under the new laws, car registration details will also be used, as will more closed circuit ... […]
- Use these pocket ashtrays for your cigarette butts, says City of Vancouver on June 5, 2019 at 5:24 pm
The city distributed pocket ashtrays last summer, but have since revamped their design from a hard shell to a soft backing. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) The City of Vancouver is handing out free pocket ... […]
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