Wednesday, 17 Jul, 2013 Science
94
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Scientists Transform Rice Husks Into Expensive Product

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This process in the near future could be used to transform 80 million tons of garbage into a valuable product.

Despite the fact that rice represents a staple crop in the majority of the nations, it is also the producer of a huge amount of waste.

It should be noted that on average 20% of all rice by weight is thrown away. Thus each year accounts for 80 million tons of inedible husks from today's annual rice yield of 422 million tons.

These husks are tough and abrasive and can be used in low-cost materials like fertilizer additives or bed soil and nothing more. Nevertheless a team of scientists from South Korea managed to come up with a way of reducing the amount of agricultural waste from rice farming. They were able to turn the husks into a more precious finished product.

Researchers at the Chungnam National University were able to extract silica from the silicon-rich husks to turn it into silicon for battery anodes.

Despite the fact that molecularly rice silicon is identical to sand, the plant is the one that deposits it in porous nanolayers. This plays the role of defensive measure against insects and fungi.

Thus to extract the expensive material, scientists had to use a process that involves several steps, including acid and heat treatment.

The new method provides high-grade electronics ready silicon that is desirable for battery anodes because of its electrochemical characteristics.

Korean scientists published their discovery in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) magazine.

[via Herald Sun News]

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