- R&D 100 Awards
Created from packing peanuts, carbon microsheets and nanoparticles—UpCarbon with Versatile Applications—are new forms of carbon designed to address the growing issue of plastic and non-degradable waste. Of the 2.3 million tons of plastic products produced each year, more than 43 percent are disposed as trash or landfill waste. Plastics remain in landfills for at least 100 years due to their strong chemical resistance; the continued disposal of plastics results in expansion of landfill size, reduction of fertile and usable land, and cultivation of habitats for disease-carrying pests. Purdue University’s packing peanut “upcycling” technology completely destroys unwanted plastic using a one-step, low-energy, solventless process and can serve important applications in advanced rechargeable battery systems (both Li-ion and Na-ion) and CO2 carbon capture. In particular, UpCarbons deliver exceptionally high electrode capacities, even at fast charging speeds. Preliminary testing with Faradion U.K. has successfully implemented carbon microsheets as an anode in industrial pouch batteries, demonstrating stable capacity performance for more than 120 cycles.