New process converts biomass waste into useful electronic devices
Northern China's roadsides are peppered with deciduous phoenix trees, producing an abundance of fallen leaves in autumn. These leaves are generally burned in the colder season, exacerbating the country's air pollution problem.
Investigators in Shandong, China, recently discovered a new method to convert this organic waste matter into a porous carbon material that can be used to produce high-tech electronics. The advance is reported in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, by AIP Publishing.
The investigators used a multistep, yet simple, process to convert tree leaves into a form that could be incorporated into electrodes as active materials. The dried leaves were first ground into a powder, then heated to 220 degrees Celsius for 12 hours.
This produced a powder composed of tiny carbon microspheres. These microspheres were then treated with a solution of potassium hydroxide and heated by increasing the temperature in a series of jumps from 450 to 800 C.
The chemical treatment corrodes the surface of the carbon microspheres, making them extremely porous. The final product, a black carbon powder, has a very high surface area due to the presence of many tiny pores that have been chemically etched on the surface of the microspheres. The high surface area gives the final product its extraordinary electrical properties.
The investigators ran a series of standard electrochemical tests on the porous microspheres to quantify their potential for use in electronic devices. The current-voltage curves for these materials indicate that the substance could make an excellent capacitor. Further tests show that the materials are, in fact, supercapacitors, with specific capacitances of 367 Farads/gram, which are over three times higher than values seen in some graphene supercapacitors.
A capacitor is a widely used electrical component that stores energy by holding a charge on two conductors, separated from each other by an insulator. Supercapacitors can typically store 10-100 times as much energy as an ordinary capacitor, and can accept and deliver charges much faster than a typical rechargeable battery. For these reasons, supercapacitive materials hold great promise for a wide variety of energy storage needs, particularly in computer technology and hybrid or electric vehicles.
The research, led by Hongfang Ma of Qilu University of Technology, has been heavily focused on looking for ways to convert waste biomass into porous carbon materials that can be used in energy storage technology.
In addition to tree leaves, the team and others have successfully converted potato waste, corn straw, pine wood, rice straw and other agricultural wastes into carbon electrode materials. Professor Ma and her colleagues hope to improve even further on the electrochemical properties of porous carbon materials by optimizing the preparation process and allowing for doping or modification of the raw materials.
The supercapacitive properties of the porous carbon microspheres made from phoenix tree leaves are higher than those reported for carbon powders derived from other biowaste materials. The fine scale porous structure seems to be key to this property, since it facilitates contact between electrolyte ions and the surface of the carbon spheres, as well as enhancing ion transfer and diffusion on the carbon surface. The investigators hope to improve even further on these electrochemical properties by optimizing their process and allowing for doping or modification of the raw materials.
The article, "Supercapacitive performance of porous carbon materials derived from tree leaves," is authored by Hongfang Ma, Zhibao Liu, Xiaodan Wang and Rongyan Jiang. The article appeared in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy August 29, 2017 [DOI: 10.1063/1.4997019] and can be accessed at http://aip.
ABOUT THE JOURNAL
Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal covering all areas of renewable and sustainable energy relevant to the physical science and engineering communities. See http://aip.
Julia Majors | EurekAlert!
Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation
19.01.2018 | Carnegie Institution for Science
Artificial agent designs quantum experiments
19.01.2018 | Universität Innsbruck
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy