New rubber composites can be generated from an unusual source: food waste.
Researchers in France and Brazil have cracked biogas derived from rotting food to create remarkably high-quality graphitic nanocarbons. When incorporated into rubbers, these nanocarbons provide a huge conductivity boost — as high as 7.5 S/m. That number is on par with the highest conductivities reached by using other carbon fillers in rubbers.
The project originated from the problem of how to turn food waste into something useful, says Alain Pénicaud, a senior researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) who specializes in nanocarbons. The production of methane gas from composting food waste is not new, but the team wanted to find out whether methane from compost could produce carbon nanostructures pure enough for sophisticated uses.
The researchers first sourced methane and carbon dioxide from composting food waste. They used microwave plasma processing technology at the company Cambridge Nanosystems to crack...
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