Advances In Fuel Tech: Cigarette Butts To Store Energy While Boeing To Use Tobacco To Make Jet Fuel

Advancement in fuel generation, storage and conservation surely has come a long way, but two recent developments might address multiple problems and help the energy-starved world.

Researchers from Seoul National University have come forth and claimed that cigarette filters which are composed mainly of cellulose acetate fibers and are considered toxic and a risk to the environment when discarded can be used to store energy. Explaining the concept, Jongheop Yi, professor and study co-author 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,”

What the world today needs is a super-capacitor, a device that is able to hold more power for longer durations of time and charges quickly. Interestingly, as The Time had earlier reported, there are quite a few prototypes in the works. But these are primarily intended for the smartphone wielding population.

Essentially, the scientists have developed a super-capacitor which stores more power, charges quicker and lasts longer than available storage alternatives, reported NBC News. This has been possible owing to the principle material in the cigarette butts, shared Yi,

“Carbon is one of the promising materials considered for use in super-capacitors due to its low cost, high porosity, electronic conductivity and stability.”

Cigarette Butts Are The largest Pollution Causing Menace

With cigarette butts responsible for generation of almost 800,000 tons of waste per year, these super-capacitors might be a true salvation, but will the smoking population now claim they are doing the planet good?

In other energy related news, Boeing may soon tweak its planes to accept jet-fuel that has been generated from a hybrid tobacco plant. The jet fuel will be made from a hybrid tobacco plant known as Solaris, which will be produced by alternative jet fuel maker SkyNRG. Test farming of the plants, which incidentally are nicotine-free, is ongoing in South Africa.

Biofuels derived from organic sources such as plant and algae could reduce carbon emissions by as much as 80% compared with petroleum-based fuels, reported LA Times.

The South African government is confident that come October, fuel producers will start blending diesel and petrol with biofuel to cut its reliance on imported fuel. Interestingly, South Africa has one of the largest reserves of bio-mass, but the country was crippled by inadequate regulatory regime and concerns that biofuels would hurt food security and impact food prices.

However, the modified tobacco plant will certainly not have any such regressive impact on Africa’s food reserves, feels the country. With Boeing throwing its weight behind such regenerative and organic fuel-sources, the world might soon see planes running on this new bio-fuel.

[Image Credit | Kevin P. Casey / Bloomberg, Owen Franken/Corbis]