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Malay scientists use tropical fruits to make batteries

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
February 8th, 2011

By Shiow Chin Tan, Science and Development Network

Malaysian engineers are harnessing the country’s biodiversity to find alternative raw materials for high-tech electronic products such as electric vehicle batteries.

They have discovered that bamboo, coconut shells and durian fruit skins can be converted into an activated form of carbon used to make the components of electric batteries known as ‘supercapacitors’.

Activated carbon is normally made from coal but now researchers say it could be sourced from a natural, renewable source, providing income to rural people.

Project leader Dino Isa, an engineering professor from the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC), said that the process of obtaining or cultivating the plant products and converting them to activated carbon could be outsourced as a cottage industry to those living in rural areas.

The plants are readily available in the tropical nation, allowing for sustainable and environmentally friendly sourcing of such components. And the new process will reduce the material cost of producing battery components by up to 30 per cent, the researchers said.

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