Physicists have learned how to turn plastic bottles into supercapacitors

Scientists at the University of California, Riverside have developed a technology for producing supercapacitor components from ordinary waste. We are talking about polyethylene terephthalate or PET, from which most plastic bottles are made. From an economic point of view, such a material is significantly superior to high-tech raw materials such as graphene or carbon nanotubes.

The development of supercapacitors is the core work of a group of scientists from the University of California at Riverside. Previously, they managed to create a universal experimental design of such an energy storage device, and now they are looking for optimal materials for its components. Behind and graphene checks and glass bottle recycling, and now they are engaged in PET containers.

In a simplified form, plastic recycling looks like this. The bottle pieces are dissolved and electrospinned to separate into individual fibers. Those are burned in a furnace to release carbon, which is mixed with two components - a binder and a conductive one. The resulting material becomes part of a nanometer-sized two-layer plate, which is used as a supercapacitor electrode.

The main advantage of a supercapacitor over the same lithium-ion batteries is a high charging speed, but this has to be paid for with a significantly lower battery capacity. Therefore, for the efficient operation of the equipment of supercapacitors, a lot is required, and therefore the components for them must be cheap and easy to manufacture. The use of PET for these purposes will solve two problems: to save on production and reduce the amount of waste. This is what is called "upcycling" or recycling instead of just recycling plastic.