The day may come when smokers will proudly pool their butts for a higher purpose. According to new research, the composition of cigarette filters is seemingly ideal for coating the electrodes of supercapacitors.
As the Institute of Physics (IOP) announced this month, researchers at Seoul National Universitys College of Engineering have demonstrated the superiority of cigarette butts, in comparison with currently available carbon and graphene, as an energy-storing material. As the IOP reported, the researchers speculate that the filters, when transformed by the teams simple process, can be integrated into computers, handheld devices, electrical vehicles, and wind turbines to store energy.
In their study, the researchers revealed that cellulose acetate fibers, of which cigarette filters are mostly composed, can be transformed simply into a carbon-based material using a one-step burning technique called pyrolysis. Because of its high electrical conductivity, low cost, and long-term stability, the IOP explained, carbon is the most popular material for building energy-storing supercapacitors.
Scientists the world over are working to improve the capacity of supercapacitors, as well as to make them more cost efficient. As the studys co-author Professor Jongheop Yi explained, turning cigarette butts into energy-efficient storage would be a twofold success:
With an estimated 5.6 trillion (or 1,689,999,768 pounds of) discarded cigarette butts entering the environment every year, Seoul National University researchers arent the only ones probing this vast resource. Terracycles popular Cigarette Waste Brigade, harnessing smokers rubbish in communities throughout the US and Canada, has proven to be both an environmentally and a financially beneficial endeavor: special treatment facilities separate and compost organic materials from the butts and melt down the remaining plastic into pellets, which are used for building park benches, industrial pallets, and the like.
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