Cigarette butts; a green energy storage space?
There are about 80,000 metric tons of cigarette butts which, being non-biodegradable, contribute to large amounts of waste disposal and pollution in landfill sites. Not only this, Â they contain contaminants, that if ingested by animals, can cause accumulation of poisons along the food chain. However, in order to combat these issues, chemists at the University of Nottingham have now found a practical application for them: storage areas for hydrogen.
Robert Mokaya, a professor at the university and his undergraduate student Troy Scott Blankenship noted that when cigarette butts undergoes a process called hydrothermal carbonisation, it produces hydrochar, which when activated then produces porous carbons. These, with their oxygen rich nature and high surface area, act as a great store for hydrogen.
But why would you want to keep a hydrogen store? Here are 3 main reasons why:
1. Hydrogen can be burned to produce heat, thus it can be used as a heating fuel
2. It can also be reacted with air to produce electricity
3. Hydrogen can also be used in replacing gas in cars
In all 3 of these options, its only by product is water, and thus hydrogen can be considered an attractive sustainable fuel alternative. However, the work of converting cigarette butts into storage areas is still in research stage though, but we can safely say that doing so will lead to significant advantages for the industry as a whole.