By using a semi-solid waste produced in sugar industry, researchers have synthesized a high-performance energy-storage material that can be used to make supercapacitors1.

Biomethanated spent wash is a semi-solid waste generated in large volumes by the sugar industry. The spent wash contains biopolymers which don’t degrade and pollute the environment.

Scientists from CSIR-Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute, Bhavnagar and Jain University, Bangalore, India devised a method that converts the waste into a carbon-rich material. They then fabricated an electrode from the carbon-rich material which was tested for its efficiency to perform as a supercapacitor.

The electrode system retained 95% of its original capacitance after 1000 cycles of charging and discharging. It even showed excellent capacitance with insignificant loss even after 5000 cycles. Such capacitance could be attributed to presence of metal nanoparticles in the carbon-based material which enhances conductivity of the electrode by speeding up electron transport through its interconnected layers.

“This approach can be used for similar biomass waste sources to produce eco-friendly high-performance and advanced materials, providing an alternative route to waste mitigation, disposal and value addition through a sustainable means,” says co-corresponding author, Ramavatar Meena.