Imprimir Republish

Energy storage

Energy stored in cigarette butts

Cigarette filters can improve the efficiency of electrical equipment

EDUARDO CESARCigarette filters can improve the efficiency of electrical equipmentEDUARDO CESAR

South Korean researchers have discovered how the filters from the more than five trillion cigarette butts that smokers discard every year worldwide can be reused to increase the efficiency of devices ranging from wind turbines to electric cars. In the August 2014 issue of the journal Nanotechnology, a team led by chemist Jongheop Yi at Seoul National University described a process that transforms cellulose acetate fibers from cigarette filters (which are toxic and non-biodegradable) into a porous material that increases the performance of electronic components known as supercapacitors. The supercapacitors currently available on the market are made from carbon-based materials. They typically store less electrical energy than conventional batteries, but have been gaining importance because they last longer and can be charged and discharged thousands of times faster. Nanotechnology has been used in attempts to improve the performance of present-day supercapacitors by replacing these materials with graphene, or carbon nanotubes. The researchers in Seoul incinerated the cigarette butts at high temperatures in the presence of nitrogen, obtaining a type of porous carbon. In their tests, the material was able to store more energy than any that had been previously tested.