LONDON Aug 6 Scientists in South Korea say they
have found a way of converting used cigarette butts into a
material capable of storing energy that could help power
everything from mobile phones to electric cars.
In a study published on Tuesday in the journal
Nanotechnology, researchers from Seoul National University
outlined how they transformed the used filters, which are
composed mainly of cellulose acetate fibres and are considered
toxic and a risk to the environment when discarded.
"Our study has shown that used cigarette filters can be
transformed into a high-performing carbon-based material using a
simple one-step process, which simultaneously offers a green
solution to meeting the energy demands of society," said
professor and study co-author Jongheop Yi.
The end result is a so-called supercapacitor, which the
scientists said stores more power, charges quicker and lasts
longer than available storage alternatives.
"Carbon is one of the promising materials considered for use
in supercapacitors due to its low cost, high porosity,
electronic conductivity and stability," the study added.
According to anti-smoking campaigners Americans for
Nonsmokers' Rights, cigarette butts are the most commonly
discarded item worldwide, contributing more than 765,000 tonnes
of waste annually.
(Reporting by Michael Szabo; Editing by Mark Potter)