Discarded cigarette filters are an extremely common form of litter and consist mainly of cellulose acetate, which is not readily biodegradable. Smokers worldwide generate hundreds of thousands of tons of cigarette butts per year. Turning this large amount of waste into useful materials could mitigate the problem.
Troy Scott Blankenship and Robert Mokaya, University of Nottingham, UK, have synthesized porous carbon with ultra-high surface areas from cigarette butts. The team collected used cigarette filters, separated them from the cigarette, ground them, and finally, hydrothermally carbonized the material at 250 °C. The resulting hydrochar was dried at 112 °C and activated using KOH.
The team characterized the material using thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), powder X-ray diffraction, elemental analysis, and hydrogen uptake measurements. They found that the porous carbons have ultra-high surface areas and high pore volumes, as well as an uncharacteristically high oxygen content. Due to these properties, the material has a hydrogen storage capacity of up to 11.2 wt%, the highest reported capacity to date for porous carbons. According to the researchers, this approach could help to solve the environmental problems posed by cigarette butts and provide carbon-based sustainable energy storage materials at the same time.
- Cigarette butt-derived carbons have ultra-high surface area and unprecedented hydrogen storage capacity,
Troy Scott Blankenship, Robert Mokaya,
Energy Environ. Sci. 2017.