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Repurposing Shellfish Waste to Efficient Energy Stores

Research team from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) from the Chinese Academy of Sciences discover a method to use crayfish shells as an energy store.

Professor Zhu Xifeng’s team from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) made it possible to use crayfish shell as the biological template for high-performance supercapacitors. This work was published in Carbon. Supercapacitors are high-capacity capacitors that are able to store energy by means of a static charge as opposed to an electrochemical reaction in conventional batteries.

Compared with other high-performance materials, biomass has long been regarded as a promising one for its environmental-friendliness and extensive resources. However, practical application of biomass is restricted by their relatively rare efficient storage sites, low diffusion kinetics and the need for huge amount of premade nano templates.

To solve these problems, the researchers innovatively introduced crayfish shells to get the biological template.

Shells were dried, ground and pre-treated in an alkaline solution to retrieve templates, which were then mixed with the heavy fraction of bio-oil derived from agricultural waste to manufacture hierarchical porous carbons, a kind of supercapacitor material.

The mixed product delivered magnificent capacitance of 351 farad per gram, which was attributed to its ultra-high specific surface area, large total pore volume and reasonable content of oxygen atoms, which are of importance to a capacitor.

Besides, the symmetric supercapacitors assembled by the synthetic samples showed a superior energy density of 20 watt hour per kilogram at a power density of 350 watt per kilogram, preceding other biomass materials.

This method discovered by the team of researchers possesses an environmentally friendly solution for the power storage problem of the rapid-growing wearable displays, electric vehicles and smartphones. [APBN]