Smelly fruit takes on graphene in supercapacitors

Smelly fruit takes on graphene in supercapacitors

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Researchers in Australia have used waste some of the world’s smelliest fruit for electrodes in supercapacitors.

The team at the University of Sydney used waste from the durian fruit and jackfruit to create the carbon aerogels with higher energy density than current carbon or graphene materials

“Using durian and jackfruit purchased from a market, we converted the fruits’ waste portions into supercapacitors that can be used to store electricity efficiently,” said Associate Professor Vincent Gomes of the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. “Using a non-toxic and non-hazardous green engineering method that used heating in water and freeze drying of the fruit’s biomass, the durian and jackfruit were transformed into stable carbon aerogels — an extremely light and porous synthetic material used for a range of applications.

“Carbon aerogels make great super-capacitors because they are highly porous. We then used the fruit-derived aerogels to make electrodes which we tested for their energy storage properties, which we found to be exceptional. Current supercapacitors are made from activated carbon which are nowhere near as efficient as the ones prepared during this project. The durian and jackfruit supercapacitors perform much better than the materials currently in use and are comparable, if not better, than the expensive and exotic graphene-based materials,” he said.

The two fruit fruits were chosen as their structure is well suited to making porous aerogels, says Gomes. The foul smell also helps as people are happy to get rid of the waste.

“Durian waste, as a zero-cost substance that the community wants to get rid of urgently due to its repulsive, nauseous smell, is a sustainable source that can transform the waste into a product to substantially reduce the cost of energy storage through our chemical-free, green synthesis protocol,” he added.

Next: Energy density of the supercapacitors

The resulting aerogels had a high specific capacitance 591 F/g for the durian friut and 292 F/g for the jackfruit at a current density of 1 A/g when tested with a two-electrode configuration. This corresponds to an energy density of 41.47 Wh/kg at a power density of 0.73 kW/kg and an energy density of 8.3 Wh/kg was retained at a relatively high power density of 23.05 kW/kg for the durian version, significantly higher than that of similar materials. For the jackfruit aerogel, the energy density of 40 Wh/kg was obtained with a power density of 1.48 kW/kg. The team says the electrodes show “excellent cycling stability and charge” although they do not specify these.

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