Supercapacitors made of the world's smelliest fruit

Thursday, 12 March, 2020

Supercapacitors made of the world's smelliest fruit

Researchers from the University of Sydney have found a way to use jackfruit and durian — the latter considered the world’s smelliest fruit — to create energy stores for rapid electricity charging. Turning fruit waste into supercapacitors could substantially reduce the cost of energy storage and charge devices such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops and even electric cars much faster than batteries.

Associate Professor Vincent Gomes, who led the project, explained how he and his team converted the fruits’ waste portions (biomass) into supercapacitors that can be used to store electricity efficiently.

“Supercapacitors are like energy reservoirs that dole out energy smoothly,” Assoc Prof Gomes said. “They can quickly store large amounts of energy within a small battery-sized device and then supply energy to charge electronic devices, such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops, within a few seconds.”

He explained, “Using a non-toxic and non-hazardous green engineering method that used heating in water and freeze drying of the fruits’ 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 supercapacitors because they are highly porous,” he said, with durian waste selected “based on the excellent template nature provides for making porous aerogels”.

“We then used the fruit-derived aerogels to make electrodes which we tested for their energy storage properties, which we found to be exceptional.”

The results of the study, as published in the Journal of Energy Storage, found that “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”, Assoc Prof Gomes said.

“Current supercapacitors are made from activated carbon … [and] are nowhere near as efficient as the ones prepared during this project.”

The project also provides an ideal use for durian waste, which Assoc Prof Gomes described as “a zero-cost substance that the community wants to get rid of urgently due to its repulsive, nauseous smell … [It] 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.”

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