Russian scientists use wild plant stems to build electrodes

A genus of wild grass that grows in the vast prairies and forests of Russia has been used by scientists from the National University of Science and Technology as electrodes in batteries. The researchers have converted the stems of these plants into electrodes, i.e. elements that can store energy.

According to the same researchers at the Russian university, the optimal properties of the electrodes are in fact also found in the stems of the plant of the genus Heracleum. The stems of these plants are made of a firm bark and a softer inner core. The latter has properties similar to those of sponges. The porous structure can be used to build electrodes for supercapacitors.

The researchers cut the dry stems of this plant into rods about 1 cm long. These bars were then treated with hydrochloric acid to remove residues of organic compounds, after which they were washed and dried. After a restructuring process of carbon dioxide, the researchers mixed the resulting material with potassium hydroxide and processed it to form a surface with a large number of exterior surfaces with dimensions of 2-4 nanometers.

This is a promising task, not so much because this material exhibits superior properties to those of materials traditionally used to build supercapacitor electrodes, but because it is a plant material, in principle always available.

Professor Mikhail Astakhov points out in the same press release that the head of the Department of Chemistry and Physics at NUST is, however, a dangerous wild plant for which it is “unreasonable to create sown areas.”

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Janice Walker

Janice Walker is a biologist (having graduated from Prescott College in 2013) and an experienced writer. She currently works as a pharmacist, contributing research and content to Home of Science during her nights and weekends. During her time at Prescott College she was an active contributor to her student journal and hopes to grow up as a well established, popular science blog.
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Janice Walker