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While it remains unhealthy to smoke, there may be a positive use for used cigarette filters.

There is a way of converting used cigarette butts into a material capable of storing energy that could help power everything from mobile phones to electric cars, said scientists in South Korea.

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Researchers from Seoul National University showed how they were able to transform the used filters, which consist mainly of cellulose acetate fibers and considered toxic and a risk to the environment when discarded.

“Our study has shown that used cigarette filters can be transformed into a high-performing carbon-based material using a simple one-step process, which simultaneously offers a green solution to meeting the energy demands of society,” said Jongheop Yi, a professor at Seoul National University and co-author of a study on the subject.

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The end result is a supercapacitor, which the scientists said stores more power, charges quicker and lasts longer than available storage alternatives.

“Carbon is one of the promising materials considered for use in supercapacitors due to its low cost, high porosity, electronic conductivity and stability,” the study said.

According to anti-smoking campaigners Americans for Non-smokers’ Rights, cigarette butts are the most commonly discarded item worldwide, contributing more than 765,000 metric tons of waste annually.

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