Cigarette butts “great for energy storage”

Old cigarette butts could be successfully recycled to store energy, claim South Korean researchers in a paper published this week. They believe this technique could reduce the “environmental burden” of […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Old cigarette butts could be successfully recycled to store energy, claim South Korean researchers in a paper published this week.

They believe this technique could reduce the “environmental burden” of discarded cigarettes.

There must be plenty of butts in the world, with estimates suggesting six trillion cigarettes are produced every year.

Cigarette filters are mainly made of something called cellulose acetate, which can be converted to make a porous carbon material.

This carbon can be used as a ‘supercapacitor’ – basically a battery that can store a lot of charge.

The South Korean results came from tests on used filters from Marlboro Light Gold, Bohem Cigar Mojito and Korean brand The One Orange, which had been specially treated.

Researchers behind the paper conclude: “Further exploration of cigarette filters for a supercapacitor electrode is warranted in the field of commercial power-consuming devices with the reduction of the environmental burden.”

Minzae Lee and Gil-Pyo Kim of Seoul National University’s School of Chemical and Biological Engineering, College of Engineering are lead authors of the paper, published in the IOP Science journal Nanotechnology.