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Cutting Edge Energy Storage: Supercapacitors Made Of Wood


carbon2It is a commonly known fact that trees are essential for our fight against global warming. Not only that these absorb carbon dioxide, but they also improve human health and well-being. But this is not all. Now, scientists from Oregon State University have developed a method that converts cellulose found in trees into cheap electrodes for high-power energy storage devices.

Using materials from trees to make batteries is not a new concept. It was not long ago when we told you about a super-thin sodium-ion nanobattery made of wood fibers, which can potentially replace the polluting lithium-ion batteries.  But the new technology promises something better- supercapacitors made of wood, that open up new horizons in the field of high-tech energy storage, by bringing down the cost of making carbon electrodes enormously.

The team of scientists led by Xiulei Ji, an assistant professor of chemistry at the OSU College of Science, developed a method through which cellulose commonly found in trees is heated up and turned into blocks for supercapacitors. The process is environmentally friendly and results in the production of super cheap nitrogen-doped, nanoporous, super-thin carbon membrane, which can be used as an electrode in high-tech energy storage devices.

The study, published in the journal Nano Letters and funded by the Oregon State University, is one of a kind. Turning cheap and otherwise unusable wood into a high-tech product with thousands of applications, is remarkable. According to the authors, the method is very simple. All you need is a furnace and some ammonia and voila, the product is at your disposal cheaply and efficiently. What is more, when used in batteries of electronic devices, these nanoporous membranes allow much faster recharging and can hold much more power than their conventional ancestors.

Probably the only limitation of the method is that the by-product is methane, which if not contained, could be released in the atmosphere and worsen the already bad enough climate change. However, if storage is performed properly, then it could actually be turned into fuel immediately.

There is no doubt that the technology has many applications, and could potentially turn cheap material into high-tech device. We should only hope that they do not cut healthy trees to make it.

Image (c)  OSU

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