Littered Cigarette Butts Used For Green Energy

cigarette butt photo

Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the U.S.  And worldwide, it’s estimated that 5.6 trillion cigarette butts are disposed of inappropriately daily. But what if all these nasty, stinky used cigarette butts could be used for good? South Korean researchers are trying to do just that.

Scientists are trying to turn dirty filters into a reusable material that more effectively stores energy. They’re using cigarette butts from Marlboro Light Gold, The One Orange, and Bohem Cigar Cigarettes and breaking them down using a process called pyrolysis. Once broken down, the butts are able to store energy more efficiently than carbon.

Co-author of the study Professor Jongheop Yi, from Seoul National University, said: “Our study has shown that used cigarette filters can be transformed into a high-performing carbon-based material using a simple one-step process, which simultaneously offers a green solution to meeting the energy demands of society.

“Numerous countries are developing strict regulations to avoid the trillions of toxic and non-biodegradable used cigarette filters that are disposed of into the environment each year; our method is just one way of achieving this.”

Researchers in the study showed the cellulite acetate fibers from cigarette filters can be transformed relatively easily into carbon-based materials. The end result was a material that had tiny pores which actually performed better than carbon.

According to the Institute of Physics:

Once fabricated, the carbon-based material was attached to an electrode and tested in a three-electrode system to see how well the material could adsorb electrolyte ions (charge) and then release them (discharge).

The material stored a higher amount of electrical energy than commercially available carbon and also had a higher amount of storage compared to graphene and carbon nanotubes, as reported in previous studies.

I’d rather the world give up cigs all together, but until then, this is a pretty cool solution instead of leaving butts all over the streets.

Related on EcoSalon

Electronic Cigarettes Under Fire

For Pregnant Women Electronic Cigarettes Are Just As Bad As Air Pollution

Can You Really Trust E-Cigarettes?

Image: Melanie Tata