Brief

Waste-to-graphene method gets an update
Rice University researchers have modified an electrical technique to convert plastic waste into turbostratic graphene. The updated method involves using a different sequence of electrical pulses to increase the quality of the graphene, which can be used to enhance concrete, composites and other materials.

 

Insight

Plastic waste comes back in black as pristine graphene, thanks to ACDC.That’s what Rice University scientists call the process they employed to make efficient use of waste plastic that would otherwise add to the planet’s environmental woes. In this instance, the lab of Rice chemist James Tour modified its method to make flash graphene to enhance it for recycling plastic into graphene.

The lab’s study appears in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano.Simply, instead of raising the temperature of a carbon source with direct current, as in the original process, the lab first exposes plastic waste to around eight seconds of high-intensity alternating current, followed by the DC jolt.

The products are high-quality turbostratic graphene, a valuable and soluble substance that can be used to enhance electronics, composites, concrete and other materials, and carbon oligomers, molecules that can be vented away from the graphene for use in other applications.

“We also produce considerable amount of hydrogen, which is a clean fuel, in our flashing process,” said Rice graduate student and lead author Wala Algozeeb.Tour estimated that at industrial scale, the ACDC process could produce graphene for about $125 in electricity costs per ton of plastic waste.

“We showed in the original paper that plastic could be converted, but the quality of the graphene wasn’t as good as we wanted it to be,” Tour said. “Now, by using a different sequence of electrical pulses, we can see a big difference.

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Related Definitions:

 

Graphene

An extremely electrically conductive form of elemental carbon that is composed of a single flat sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a repeating hexagonal lattice.

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Rice Lab Makes Pristine Graphene in a Flash

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