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Is graphene obsolete? Regular chicken can replace it

We need energy sources that will not destroy the environment. We also need ways to store it without worrying about natural resources. Scientists are looking for new materials in the most surprising places… like food waste.

There is probably no better place to look for new solutions than the trash bin, and that's where poultry fat ends up. Scientists have found a way to use chicken fat to store energy.

Poultry supercapacitor

Scientists have found a way to convert poultry fat into carbon nanostructures that conduct electricity. Like graphene, they are suitable for the construction of supercapacitors – high-capacity energy storage that can be quickly charged and discharged. What is important, the whole process is cheap. Food waste, probably too.

Researchers started with melting the fat from the bird's body, then burning it in a device similar to an oil lamp. It was above the flame a vessel collecting sootand so fine particles of carbon remaining after incomplete combustion of organic material. This phenomenon should not surprise anyone who has ever dealt with a candle.

What is surprising is the shape of the collected particles. scientists saw under an electron microscope a uniform mesh composed of graphite rings arranged in layers. The shape was created naturally, without any special effort on the part of the experimenters. It has enormous potential. Chemists call these structures nano-onions because they also have layers.

Illustration of the process of making a chicken battery

The particles have been arranged in such a way as to build negative electrode for an asymmetric supercapacitor. The electrode was then placed in a thiourea solution to improve their electrical properties.

The supercapacitor with a poultry electrode turned out to be durable, reliable and stable. The culmination of the experiment was a small system of two supercapacitors and colorful LEDs. This proves that Burnt food waste can gain a second life in the real world, not only in theory.

We undoubtedly need new batteries. The amount of energy we obtain from renewable sources is increasing, but the supply is not constant. It is necessary to store surpluses – from solar panels for use at night, from wind turbines for windless days, and so on. At the same time, energy storage should be cheap to produce and leave a relatively small carbon footprint. The same cannot be said about graphene, the production of which is expensive and “dirty”. Burning food waste is like cleaning.

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