Cigarettes, the most frequently littered item in the country, could give a big bump to green tech, according to a group of South Korean scientists. The researchers transformed thousands of dirty filters into a material that can help store energy.
The scientists took used butts from Marlboro Light Gold, The One Orange, and Bohem Cigar Mojito cigarettes and and broke them down through a high-temperature process called pyrolysis.
When the researchers attached the hybrid carbon material they created onto an electrode, they found that it was able to store more electricity than commercially available carbon. The scientists see a wide range of possible applications for energy-retaining capacitors in portable devices, wind turbines, and electric vehicles. The Institute of Physics reports:
Co-author of the study Professor Jongheop Yi, from Seoul National University, said: ‘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.
‘Numerous countries are developing strict regulations to avoid the trillions of toxic and non-biodegradable used cigarette filters that are disposed of into the environment each year; our method is just one way of achieving this.’
We’re not saying to take up smoking — mojito-flavored cigarette, anyone? — but here’s hoping that in the future all those used butts might end up greening our electronics instead of piling up on our streets.