Although face masks are a must in our current pandemic-riddled world, they are bad for our environment.
Every minute of the day the world throws away 3 million face masks
Now you can find them everywhere on earth, including the oceans. Most of these masks contain plastics or other derivatives of plastics. You cannot even burn them as they emit toxic gases on burning.
We desperately need to find a way to recycle them
Now researchers from the National University of Science and Technology “MISIS” in Moscow have put forward a novel method for disposing of old masks. They have developed a new technology for producing low-cost, flexible, and efficient batteries from used masks. The study is published in the Journal of Energy Storage.
Professor Anvar Zakhidov, scientific director at NUST MISiS said “To create a battery of the supercapacitor type, the following algorithm is used: first the masks are disinfected with ultrasound, then dipped in ‘ink’ made of graphene, which saturates the mask. Then the material is pressed under pressure and heated to 140°C (conventional supercapacitor batteries require very high temperatures for pyrolysis-carbonation, up to 1000-1300°C, while the new technology reduces energy consumption by a factor of 10). A separator (also made of mask material) with insulating properties is then placed between the two electrodes made of the new material. It is saturated with a special electrolyte, and then a protective shell is created from the material of medical blister packs (such as paracetamol),”
This new technology not only helps in recycling the masks, but the batteries so produced have also achieved an energy density of 99.7 watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg). That’s great, as the energy density of the ubiquitous lithium-ion battery ranges between 100 and 265 Wh/kg.
Moreover, these thin, flexible, low-cost batteries are also disposable.