A new technology to convert used masks into batteries

People have become dependent on personal protective equipment with the emergence of the “Covid-19” (COVID-19) pandemic, and disposable face masks (gags) constitute a large part of personal protective equipment around the world, but much has not been thought about how to properly dispose of these products.

While these products are necessary in our fight against Corona, they undoubtedly negatively affect the environment, and end up in landfills and oceans releasing toxic gases, and it is enough to know that in the year 2020 alone 52 billion face masks were made and 1.56 billion of them ended up in our oceans. .

Recycling face masks, using them in paving materials, and sterilizing face masks in electric ovens are just some of the ways we have tried to deal with the troubling problem.

Now, a team of scientists from the National University of Science and Technology (MISIS) in Russia along with colleagues from the United States and Mexico have come up with a new way to turn used masks into low-cost, flexible, and effectively disposable batteries. The study in magazine Journal of Energy Storage.

Professor Anvar Zakhidov, scientific director of the “High-Performance Devices and Photovoltaic Cells” project at the National University of Science and Technology, said: “To create a supercapacitor-type battery the following technology is used: First, the masks are disinfected with ultrasound, then dipped in a graphene “ink”, Which completely covers the mask.

In 2020 alone 52 billion face masks were made and 1.56 billion of them ended up in the oceans (Getty Images)

The material is then compressed and heated to 140°C (traditional supercapacitor batteries require very high temperatures for carbon pyrolysis, from 1,000 to 1,300°C, while the new technology reduces energy consumption by a factor of 10).

Then a separator (also made of mask material) with insulating properties is placed between two electrodes made of the new material (a special electrolyte), and then a protective sleeve is created from a medical oil canister material such as paracetamol.

While this process is innovative in itself, the team found it to be highly effective as well, with the researchers claiming to have achieved an energy density of 99.7 watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg).

This is close to the energy density of the ubiquitous lithium-ion battery, which ranges from 100 to 265 W/kg.

According to the article, the researchers improved the battery by adding calcium and cobalt oxide perovskite nanoparticles to the electrodes, and this more than doubled the energy density, reaching 208 W/kg, and the battery’s best performance reached 82% of its capacity after 1500 cycle, and it can provide power for more than 10 hours at a voltage of up to 0.54V.

The new method could pave the way for the production of high-quality batteries in several ways, which are better than traditional, heavier, metal-coated batteries, which require more manufacturing costs.

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