ITS Students Process Palm Oil Wastes Into Battery Component

Surabaya – A team of students from Surabaya-based Sepuluh November Institute of Technology (ITS) was selected as the 2021 second winner of the palm oil research competition for students.

The three-member team–Wahida Annisa Ermadayanti, Cininta Nareswari and Muhammad Salman Al Kahfi are students of ITS chemical engineering faculty. They took part in the research competition that is organized hybridly in Bogor at the end of last month.

The team head Wahida said that their team during the competition presented the result of their research on the use of empty palm fruit bunches for making electro-catalysis support material for metal air battery, which is one of the components of battery.

“Generally, the metal air battery is produced by using platinum whose availability is limited and expensive,” she said in a written statement on Thursday, 02 September 2021.

Wahida, who was born in Blitar, East Java province, said that they agreed to replace the platinum used in the metal air battery with manganese dioxide (MnO2). According to her, the material can substitute the platinum as it is cheaper, and has better catalysis character.

But she noted that the use of MnO2 also has a shortcoming, which is its surface area tends to be lower.

“So, we need to add carbon in the form of reduced graphene oxide (rGO) from the waste of empty palm fruit bunches,” she said.

To get the rGO carbon, the waste of empty palm fruit bunches has to be dried first. Then, it is followed with the process of delignification to get lignin extract from the raw material. After that, the resulted lignin is put into the process of synthesizing to get carbon.

“Then, we have to conduct a test of characterization to ensure that the resulted carbon is the rGO carbon,” she said.

She said the rGO carbon has good conductivity properties to deliver electric current, so that it can be used as the material support of electro-catalysis in battery. It will be later composited with MnO2.

“So then, it can cover the deficiency of MnO2 and derive material with higher surface area and has the characteristic of electro-catalysis. Finally, the derived composite will undergo a test of electro-chemical activity by using the method of cyclic voltammetry (CV),” she noted.

She pointed out that their research product is derived from the waste of empty palm fruit bunches, which are one of the kinds of biomass wastes which have high level of lignin besides the coconut shells. Lignin is one of the wastes that is hard to degrade. “So, the use of the waste of empty palm fruit bunches will help reduce the wastes that are hard to degrade and create environmentally friendly energy,” she added.

“We hope the result of our research will be further developed to produce ready-to-use battery that has economic value. One of the possibilities will be to add a variety of comparisons of rGO carbon and MnO2 in electro-chemical experiment, to get comparisons of best material to be applied in metal air battery.

“We hope it can be tested by using the  method of linier sweep voltammetry (LSV) to find out the transfer of electron in the sample,” she said. (*)

Source: IDN Times | Featured image via its.ac.id

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