Monday 26th September 2016                 Change text size:

Waste cigarette butts could create clean energy storage solution



Photo: durera_toujours via Flickr

Waste cigarette butts could be used to create efficient energy storage devices, research from scientists in South Korea has found. The research looked at a one-step process, which could help the environment by reusing the common waste product.

In the study published in the journal, Nanotechnology, researchers treated cigarette filters to create a material that could help electric cars, portable electronics and wind turbines store energy.

The waste product improves the performance of supercapacitors, a battery technology that has a long life-cycle, high power density and short charging time.

The results found cigarette butts produced superior performance compared to the usual carbon alternatives.

The filters can be turned into a material with lots of pores, which can then coat electrodes of supercapacitors and create an efficient energy storage device.

Some 5.6 trillion cigarettes are sold globally every year so this method hopes to create a solution to the non-biodegradable and toxic waste.

Co-author of the study Professor Jongheop Yi, from Seoul National University, said,  “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.”    

Tobacco is also being used in the aviation industry with Boeing recently announcing their plans to make sustainable aviation biofuel from a new type of tobacco plant.

Using waste products to create a sustainable supply chain has also been seen in new research that suggests waste coffee grinds could be used to power vehicles and reduce carbon emissions.

Photo: durera_toujours via Flickr

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Further reading:

Boeing to develop sustainable biofuel from tobacco plants

Waste coffee could produce ‘truly sustainable’ biofuel for transport

Report highlights importance and future of low-carbon biofuel industry

Microscopic hydroelectrics and space-based solar: the renewable energy of the future

The Guide to Sustainable Clean Energy 2014


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