Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

High-tech electronics made from autumn leaves

30.08.2017

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.


Phoenix tree (Paulownia imperialis) leaves.

Credit: US National Park Service, Public Domain


Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) image of porous carbon microspheres.

Credit: Hongfang Ma, Qilu University of Technology

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.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1063/1.4997019.

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.scitation.org/journal/rse.

Media Contact

Julia Majors
media@aip.org
301-209-3090

 @AIPPhysicsNews

http://www.aip.org 

Julia Majors | EurekAlert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth
17.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Pluto's hydrocarbon haze keeps dwarf planet colder than expected
16.11.2017 | University of California - Santa Cruz

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>