SEOUL, Jun. 29 (Korea Bizwire) — On June 27, the Korea Forest Service’s National Institute of Forest Science (NIFoS) disclosed that researchers had developed – in partnership with the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) – the core technology to turn paper towel soaked with coffee into an eco-friendly supercapacitor paper battery. A supercapacitor is a high capacity battery that quickly stores and supplies electrical energy, and is used to discharge or supply electricity when needed after storing it.
The technology was inspired by paper towels used to wipe up coffee spills. The researchers created new activated carbon by using alkali metal ions as an activating catalyst, and created the eco-friendly paper battery by heating paper towel soaked with coffee.
In the past, potassium hydroxide (KOH) and zinc chloride (ZnCl2) were used to make supercapacitors, but they had negative health effects on lab workers. In addition, corrosion during the process reduced the life span of the facilities, resulting in high maintenance costs.
The new technology promises two kill two birds with one stone by reducing human exposure to harmful substances while also boosting economic efficiency.
The new supercapacitor performs better with higher flexibility compared to carbonized ones from cellulose paper, as the coffee soaking process yielded double the capacitance, and the new battery had a longer life span and better stability even after discharging 10,000 times.
This also makes recycling used paper towels possible.
Sun-young Lee, a researcher at UNIST, noted that 35 to 40 percent of the most popular plant biomasses on Earth consist of cellulose. “Using wood to create cellulose paper, which acts as an electrode, reduces the costs of making the battery”, said.
“The technology for making activated carbon with coffee-soaked papers is meaningful in that it replaces the existing harmful chemicals with eco-friendly substances, and simplifies the manufacturing process for cost efficiency. The paper supercapacitor sets a new direction for overcoming the structural weakness of existing batteries,” said Sang-young Lee, a professor at UNIST.
The researchers have applied for a technology patent in South Korea, and the findings were published in the online version of ACS (Applied Materials and Interfaces), an international SCI journal.
Kevin Lee (email@example.com)