Let’s be honest… smoking is a pretty nasty habit.
And it’s one made even nastier when smokers drop their used cigarette butts all over the street/park/train (delete as appropriate).
These days, however, new innovation is found in the most uncommon places – and creative thinkers are finding a unique use for these spent cigarette ends.
From Nasty Habit to Novel Idea
Scientists have found a cool way of using cigarette butts to store energy… turning an environmental pollutant into a power producer.
Now that’s the epitome of the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
And it’s the motto for Kim Gil-pyo, a researcher at South Korea’s Seoul National University.
After seeing so many discarded cigarette butts, he was inspired to explore ways of recycling them into useful materials.
And he’s cracked the code…
The Science Behind the Solution
Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate. When this is subjected to an extreme heating process, it can be manipulated into a carbon-based material (which is the ideal substance for super capacitors).
Even better… it’s cheap, has long-term stability, and high electrical conductivity.
As Kim Gil-pyo says, “By creating the world’s first super capacitor material with cigarette butts – which doesn’t have chemical reactions like regular batteries – we were able to make a fast-charging and discharging energy storage material (battery) that can be used semi-permanently.”
Keep in mind that super capacitors are most often found in electronics and industrial energy converters (think laptops, cellphones, and wind turbines). So this process represents a radical new approach.
One that’s a very useful, yet economical alternative to the wasteful status quo – simply tossing the cigarette butts on the ground or in the trash.
Now, clearly, we’d never suggest that you start smoking, or tell smokers to puff away even more. But at least with an innovation like this, that bad habit would actually serve some useful purpose, rather than just causing cancer and turning teeth a lovely shade of yellow.
Once Kim’s super capacitors hit the market, he’s optimistic that his idea will take off.
Tech Research Team