The low-cost, disposable batteries can be used for household appliances such as clocks and lamps
Spotted: The global population has been using more than 130 billion masks every month during the COVID-19 pandemic. And when these masks are thrown away, they create hundreds of tonnes of polymer waste. This waste is difficult to recycle and emits toxic chemicals if burnt.
To tackle the issue, a team of researchers from Russia’s National University of Science and Technology ‘MISIS’ (NUST MISIS) have developed new technology for converting discarded masks into batteries for use in household devices. Waste drug blister packs are also used as a shell for the battery, and graphene is the only new material that needs to be procured for the process. The batteries store energy well and are cheaper to produce than their metal-coated conventional counterparts.
Masks are not the only surprising material researchers have used to create recycled batteries. Others include coconut shells, rice husks, newspaper waste, and tyre waste. However, these materials all must undergo high-temperature charring in specially designed furnaces. By contrast, the batteries in the NUST MISIS study did not need to go through this process – reducing costs.
The research team’s next ambition is to use the technology to create larger-scale batteries for applications such as electric cars and solar power stations.
Written By: Matthew Hempstead