Scientists from Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) have created two composite piezoelectric materials from common waste products.
According to professor Jyh-Ming Wu and his team, one of the materials was extracted from discarded rice husks. It has been purposed as a catalyst and is capable of treating industrial wastewater 90 times quicker than photocatalysts in use today.
The other material was extracted from discarded squid bones and has been used to produce a self-sanitizing transparent film suitable for use as a cover on mobile phone screens, elevator buttons, door handles, etc.
In the first case, Wu’s team extracted silicon dioxide from rice husks and then added molybdenum and sulfur to produce a quartz composite piezoelectric material.
The material can be injected into a factory’s wastewater pipeline wherein the pressure generated by the water flow helps to purify the pollution without needing any light.
It has been synthesized to cope with the difficult-to-treat dyes present in the wastewater produced by textile factories.
Apart from wastewater treatment, this new material can also be used to produce hydrogen, which can be collected and used to produce energy.
Another plus: these piezoelectric materials are reusable and biodegradable, and could thus provide a new type of wastewater treatment which is inexpensive, convenient, effective and environmentally friendly.
The second material developed by Wu’s team is from chitin derived from squid bones. This composite piezoelectric material is suitable for producing a transparent film which undergoes self-sterilization whenever it’s touched.
This should make it highly suitable as a screen cover for various items in public places, such as automated ticketing machines, as well as for mobile phones.
According to the scientists, the chitin used to make this new piezoelectric material can also be extracted from shrimp shells, crab shells and cuttlefish bones.
Image and content: NTHU MSE, Taiwan via PhysOrg