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At the Kansas Polymer Research Center, where senior Jonghyun Choi saw treasure in trash – coffee grounds, to be precise.
Those coffee grounds that inspired Choi, a student from South Korea, wound up as fuel.
More than half of American adults drinks coffee every day, or about 10 pounds per year per person. While coffee-drinkers may feel the effects of coffee as their own kind of “energy,” Choi figured out how to use coffee to create energy storage through research with Associate Professor Ram Gupta at the KPRC. It’s a place where students and scientists rub elbows often.
“We found that the carbons could be made into a supercapacitor, a small battery, that can last 10 years,” Gupta said.
It could power a small fan, for example, or perhaps someday soon, a cell phone. If they could produce hundreds in a day, Choi estimates, then industry could create thousands.
Choi’s work was accepted for publication in an international journal, and his work to perfect the batteries is continuing at PSU as he seeks a graduate degree.“A professor like Ram, he’s an excellent researcher, but his biggest impact is what he does with students,” said Tim Dawsey, who directs the KPRC. “The work they’re doing together is inspiring the next generation.”
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