Can cigarette butts take off?

Chemists at the UK’s University of Nottingham have discovered that carbons derived from cigarette butts have ultra-high surface areas and unprecedented hydrogen storage capacity, which could solve a major waste disposal problem while offering a way to store clean fuel, according to a story on relayed by the TMA.

Robert Mokaya, professor of materials chemistry, and Troy Scott Blankenship, an undergraduate project student, published their work in the academic journal Energy and Environmental Science.

“We have utilised cigarette butt waste as starting material to prepare energy materials that offer unprecedented hydrogen storage properties,” said Mokaya.

“This may not only address an intractable environmental pollution problem – cigarette butts – but also offers new insights into converting a major waste product into very attractive hydrogen storage materials.”

Using hydrogen as a fuel is appealing because the only by-product when combined with oxygen is water.

Mokaya said that this technique could be developed to replace, for example, gasoline as a transport fuel or natural gas as a heating fuel.