Cigarette butts can be used to store energy

Billions of bulls are thrown away every year by smokers around the world. Even when properly disposed of, all of this waste is a threat to the environment in the form of emissions of arsenic, lead and other unpleasant chemicals. However, a new study by South Korean scientists shows that cigarette butts can be given new life as a highly efficient energy storage material.

Scientists at Seoul National University have discovered that the cellulose fibers that make up a cigarette butt can be converted by pyrolysis into a carbon material. Such a material is suitable as a component for supercapacitors - long-life, fast-charging devices capable of storing enormous amounts of energy.

The research team tested the new material by attaching a sample to an electrode. By examining the material's ability to absorb and discharge electrolyte ions, the scientists found that it can store more electrical energy than graphene, carbon nanotubes, and carbon, which are popular in conventional supercapacitors.

Scientists hope that the use of the new material in the manufacture of supercapacitors could lead to more efficient energy storage in electric vehicles, wind turbines and mobile devices.