Shells of tamarind, a tropical fruit consumed worldwide, are rejected throughout meals manufacturing. As they’re cumbersome, tamarind shells embrace a substantial quantity of space in landfills the place they’re disposed as agricultural waste.
Though, a crew of worldwide scientists led by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has discovered an alternative to take care of the issue. By processing the tamarind shells that are wealthy in carbon, the scientists transformed the waste materials into carbon nanosheets, that are a significant element of supercapacitors—energy storage units which can be utilized in cars, buses, electrical vehicles, trains, and elevators.
The research shows NTU’s dedication to tackle humanity’s grand challenges on sustainability as a part of its 2025 strategic plan, which seeks to accelerate the interpretation of analysis discoveries into improvements that mitigate our influence on the atmosphere.
The crew, composed of researchers from NTU Singapore, the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences in Norway, and Alagappa University in India, believes that these nanosheets, when scaled up, could possibly be an eco-friendly numerous to their industrially produced counterparts, and lower down on waste on the similar time.
Assistant Professor (Steve) Cuong Dang, from NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, who led the research, stated: “Through a series of analysis, we found that the performance of our tamarind shell-derived nanosheets was comparable to their industrially made counterparts in terms of porous structure and electrochemical properties. The process to make the nanosheets is also the standard method to produce active carbon nanosheets.”
Professor G. Ravi, Head, Department of Physics, who co-authored the research with Asst Prof Dr. R. Yuvakkumar, who’re each from Alagappa University, commented: “The use of tamarind shells may reduce the amount of space required for landfills, especially in regions in Asia such as India, one of the world’s largest producers of tamarind, which is also grappling with waste disposal issues.”
The research was exposed within the peer-reviewed scientific journal Chemosphere in June.
The step-by-step recipe for carbon nanosheets
To manufacture the carbon nanosheets, the researchers first cleaned tamarind fruit shells and dried them at 100°C for round six hours, earlier than grinding them into powder.
The scientists then baked the powder in a furnace for 150 minutes at 700-900 levels Celsius within the absence of oxygen to convert them into ultrathin sheets of carbon generally known as nanosheets.
Tamarind shells are wealthy in carbon and porous in nature, making them a supreme material from which to fabricate carbon nanosheets.
A usual material used to supply carbon nanosheets are industrial hemp fibres. Though, they require to be heated at over 180°C for 24 hours—4 instances longer than that of tamarind shells, and at the next temperature. This is prior than the hemp is additional subjected to intense warmth to convert them into carbon nanosheets.
Professor Dhayalan Velauthapillai, Head of the analysis group for Advanced Nanomaterials for Clean Energy and Health Applications at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, who participated within the research, stated: “Carbon nanosheets comprise of layers of carbon atoms arranged in interconnecting hexagons, like a honeycomb. The secret behind their energy storing capabilities lies in their porous structure leading to large surface area which help the material to store large amounts of electric charges.”
The tamarind shell-derived nanosheets moreover confirmed good thermal stability and electrical conductivity, making them promising choices for energy storage.
The researchers hope to discover bigger scale manufacturing of the carbon nanosheets with agricultural companions. They are additionally involved on lowering the energy wanted for the manufacturing course of, making it extra environmentally pleasant, and are looking for to enhance the electrochemical properties of the nanosheets.
The crew additionally hopes to encounter the potential of utilizing various kinds of fruit skins or shells to supply carbon nanosheets.