Using smelly fruit to charge your phone


Thursday, 12 March, 2020



Using smelly fruit to charge your phone

A new method that involves converting durian and jackfruit waste into supercapacitors that can charge mobile phones has been developed at the University of Sydney.

This system could substantially reduce the cost of energy storage and charge devices such as mobile phones, tablet, laptops and electric cars very quickly.

“Using durian and jackfruit purchased from a market, we converted the fruits’ waste portions (biomass) into supercapacitors that can be used to store electricity efficiently,” said School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering academic Associate Professor Vincent Gomes.

“Using a non-toxic and non-hazardous green engineering method that used heating in water and freeze drying of the fruits’ biomass, the durian and jackfruit were transformed into stable carbon aerogels — an extremely light and porous synthetic material used for a range of applications.

“Carbon aerogels make great supercapacitors because they are highly porous. We then used the fruit-derived aerogels to make electrodes which we tested for their energy storage properties, which we found to be exceptional.”

What are supercapacitors?

“Supercapacitors are like energy reservoirs that dole out energy smoothly. They can quickly store large amounts of energy within a small battery-sized device and then supply energy to charge electronic devices, such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops, within a few seconds,” Gomes said.

“Compared to batteries, supercapacitors are not only able to charge devices very quickly but also [offer] greater charging cycles than conventional devices.

“The current supercapacitors are made from activated carbon [and] are nowhere near as efficient as the ones prepared during this project.”

Why were durian and jackfruit chosen?

“Durian waste was selected based on the excellent template nature provides for making porous aerogels,” Gomes said.

“The durian and jackfruit supercapacitors perform much better than the materials currently in use and are comparable, if not better, than the expensive and exotic graphene-based materials.

“Durian waste, as a zero-cost substance that the community wants to get rid of urgently due to its repulsive, nauseous smell, is a sustainable source that can transform the waste into a product to substantially reduce the cost of energy storage through our chemical-free, green synthesis protocol.

“We have reached a point where we must urgently discover and produce ways to create and store energy using sustainably sourced materials that do not contribute to global warming.

“Confronted with this and the world’s rapidly depleting supplies of fossil fuels, naturally derived supercapacitors are leading the way for developing high-efficiency energy storage devices.”

Top image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/pondpony

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