From Scrap Tires to Supercapacitors

Every year, around 300 million tires are thrown away in the United States alone. According to researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), those wasted tires could be used in supercapacitors for vehicles and the electric grid.

An ORNL team led by ECS member Parans Paranthaman has developed a technology that transforms scrap tires into supercapacitors, which could help power the nation and reduce the amount of waste to landfills simultaneously.

This from ORNL:

By employing proprietary pretreatment and processing, a team led by Parans Paranthaman has created flexible polymer carbon composite films as electrodes for supercapacitors. These devices are useful in applications for cars, buses and forklifts that require rapid charge and discharge cycles with high power and high energy density. Supercapacitors with this technology in electrodes saw just a 2 percent drop after 10,000 charge/discharge cycles.

Read the full article here.

“Those tires will eventually need to be discarded, and our supercapacitor applications can consume several tons of this waste,” Paranthaman said. “Combined with the technology we’ve licensed to two companies to convert scrap tires into carbon powders for batteries, we estimate consuming about 50 tons per day.”

With this novel process, old tires are supplying the key ingredient for supercapacitors.

“Each tire can produce carbon with a yield of about 50 percent with the ORNL process,” said Yury Gogotsi, ECS Fellow and co-author of the study. “If we were to recycle all of the scrap tires, which would translate into 1.5 million tons of carbon, which is half of the annual global production of graphite.”

Nanogenerator Harvests Power from Tires

During initial trials, the team tested the nanogenerator's capabilities on a toy car with LED lights.Image: UW-Madison College of Engineering

During initial trials, the team tested the nanogenerator’s capabilities on a toy car with LED lights.
Image: UW-Madison College of Engineering

Earlier this year, the company Goodyear announced its concept of a tire that can harvest heat in a variety of ways to help power electric vehicles. Since then, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have been hard at work on their own accord to develop a tire that can harvest the typically wasted power produced from friction.

A team of UW-Madison researchers got together, led by Dr. Xudong Wang, to develop a nanogenerator that has the ability to harvest the energy from a car’s rolling tire friction, which will potentially make care tires a much more efficient product.

Find the paper in the journal Nano Energy, and take a look at Wang’s past paper, “3D Nanowire Architectures for Highly-Efficient Photoelectrochemical Anodes,” published in ECS Transactions.

This from UW-Madison:

The nanogenerator relies on the triboelectric effect to harness energy from the changing electric potential between the pavement and a vehicle’s wheels. The triboelectric effect is the electric charge that results from the contact or rubbing together of two dissimilar objects.