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Discarded Cigarette Ends Can Be Used As Supercapacitors
Dec 19, 2018

Cigarette butts everywhere on the street may seem like eyesores to many, but a team of south Korean scientists has found value in turning them into the raw material for supercapacitors. The researchers found that the infamous butt, despite its humble origins, could significantly improve the performance of ultracapacitors. Even the material world's hottest stars, graphene and carbon nanotubes, can't help but lament.

It is estimated that approximately 560 trillion cigarette butts are produced worldwide each year, with a total weight of 766,571 tons. Many countries are developing strict regulations in the hope of reducing the pollution and fire hazards. The new research not only makes the cigarette butts harmless in a green way, but also converts them into high-performance materials that can store energy for use in computers, hand-held devices, electric cars and wind turbines.

The team, from the university of Seoul in South Korea, found that cigarette filters are mostly made of cellulose acetate, which can be converted into carbon-based materials in a simple combustion process. After treatment, the surface of carbon-based materials made from cigarette filters is covered with tiny pores, which is particularly valuable for making supercapacitors. A high-performance ultracapacitor material must have a large reaction area, and this carbon-based material filled with tiny pores is just right for this condition. The combination of different orifice sizes ensures that the ultracapacitors made of the material have a high power density, enabling the ultracapacitors to be charged quickly.

Carbon is a common material used to make ultracapacitors because of its low cost, large surface area, good electrical conductivity and stability, the researchers said. Scientists around the world are working to improve the energy density and power density of ultracapacitors, as well as their cycle life, stability and other properties, while also trying to further reduce their production costs. The new study takes only a simple step to convert cigarette filters into high-performance carbon-based materials that address environmental pollution while meeting society's energy needs.

Experiments have shown that the carbon - based electrode can absorb and release electric charge well. In addition, it has a high capacity. Due to its unique pore structure, the performance of ultracapacitors is even better than that of graphene and carbon nanotubes of the same carbon series.