Scientists Say Cigarette Butts Are Great for Storing Energy

/ 5 years ago


I’m sure many of our readers smoke, it might not be great for your health, but it’s a common fact that quite a lot of people do it anyway. However, while the cigarette may be bad for your health, not forgetting the often discarded into the street cigarette butt, which is bad for the environment, it seems that some good may actually come from the latter!

A team of scientists in South Korea have published their finding in the IOP publishing journal Nanotechnology, after successfully converting cigarette butts into a high-performing carbon-based material. They’ve done this with a special one-step burning process called pyrolysis.

“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 ProfessorJongheop 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.

Not only does the technique, which no doubt has a long way to go before becoming an economically viable solution, help clean up waste, but it also provides a vitally useful product that can benefit technology industries.

“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.”

“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.”

Who knows, perhaps in a few years time we won’t be throwing cigarette butts away, but recycling them to make batteries!

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