Bougainvillea vines are ubiquitous in Indian cities with their paper-like flowers and thorns underneath that you can easily miss. Previously known for their ability to resist pollutants in the air, a group of scientists in Pune have now found out that they can extract high-quality carbon from these flowers which would help in making super-capacitors- devices that can store large amounts of energy, reports Indian Express.
Scientists from Centre for Materials for Electronics Technology (C-MET) and Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) have managed to extract graphene, a type of carbon, by drying and chemically treating the Boaugainvillea flowers. The graphene can then be used in super-capacitors which have a wide range of use including in Lithium and Sodium ion batteries. They can be used to charge mobile phones and e-vehicles.
The scientific study was published in the Nanoscale Journal in April this year.
So, why Bougainvillea flowers in particular?
“Since these flowers are available in abundance during all seasons and at all places, regardless of the geography, we decided to experiment with them,” said Bharat Kale, the director of C-MET, Pune, to Indian Express. Additionally, their variety of mineral composition like magnesium, calcium and potassium can help make the batteries last longer as well as make the extraction process easier. But more importantly, since the graphene is obtained from bio-waste, the resulting super-capacitors will be cost-effective. The scientists are now on the final legs of these super-capacitor trials.
For every kilogram of Bougainvillea flower used, 300 gm of graphene can be extracted. Since only few milligrams are required for each supercapacitor, if everything goes well this discovery can indeed make the batteries cheaper and long-lasting!