• Joanna Broomfield

Researchers Turn Durian Skin Into Sustainable Energy Storage

Could Durians be the start of a sustainable energy revolution?


It’s that time of year again, when that pungent, but delicious smell can be found on almost every street corner. If you are like me, then you are now probably day dreaming about those creamy, juicy, sweet little lobes of wonder that you find inside the spiky exterior. But, if you haven’t yet fallen for durian, then you are probably starting to feel a little nauseous after the mention of this intrusively stinky fruit.



Well, love it or hate it, it turns out durian and jackfruit may be the answer to cheaper and more efficient energy storage. The University Of Sydney researcher, Professor Vincent Gomes, has developed a new method that turns durian and jackfruit waste into incredibly effective and sustainable electricity storage that could help power mobile phones and even electric vehicles.


The research team used the skins and cores of the fruits into super-capacitors, whilst simultaneously removing food waste from the equation.


"The current super-capacitors are made from activated carbon which are nowhere near as efficient as the ones prepared during this project."

“Using durian and jackfruit purchased from a market, we converted the fruits’ waste portions (biomass) into super-capacitors that can be used to store electricity efficiently,” said Associate Professor Gomes.


“Using a non-toxic and non-hazardous green engineering method that used heating in water and freeze drying of the fruits’ biomass, the durian and jackfruit were transformed into stable carbon aerogels — an extremely light and porous synthetic material used for a range of applications.


“We then used the fruit-derived aerogels to make electrodes which we tested for their energy storage properties, which we found to be exceptional.”



But what is a super-capacitor? And what is it used for?


“Super-capacitors are like energy reservoirs that dole out energy smoothly. They can quickly store large amounts of energy within a small battery-sized device and then supply energy to charge electronic devices, such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops, within a few seconds," explains Associate Professor Gomes.


"The current super-capacitors are made from activated carbon which are nowhere near as efficient as the ones prepared during this project."



Durian and jackfruit skins are zero-cost and zero-waste, so this new method could provide us with a sustainable source that can transform the waste into a product to substantially reduce the cost of energy storage through our chemical-free, green synthesis protocol.” explains Professor Gomes.


“The durian and jack-fruit super-capacitors perform much better than the materials currently in use and are comparable, if not better, than the expensive and exotic graphene-based materials.”


So what we’re hearing is that eating more durian and jackfruit can save the world…?


“We have reached a point where we must urgently discover and produce ways to create and store energy using sustainably-sourced materials that do not contribute to global warming,” said Associate Professor Gomes.


“Confronted with this and the world’s rapidly depleting supplies of fossil fuels, naturally-derived super-capacitors are leading the way for developing high efficiency energy storage devices."


We’ll take that as a yes then.





With jackfruit already touted as a miracle fruit that may solve world hunger and now a method that will turn durian and jackfruit waste into electricity storage, it’s starting to look like plants can help us change the world at more than just meal times.


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