Scientists at the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST) in Mohali, Punjab, have devised a scalable and sustainable solution that produces high-quality graphene nanosheets using waste peanut shells. The shells are “carbonised” and processed to form small, low volume pores that increase the surface area available for chemical reactions. This then undergoes “mechanical exfoliation”, a process that uses sound waves to agitate the material into forming a stable structure akin to graphene. After suitable tests were carried out, researchers found that they had produced high-quality graphene nanosheets.
The current manufacturing process for graphene involves the use of costly and hazardous chemicals, which often lead to the contamination of water bodies when they are disposed of. High demand for graphene, due to its superior electrical and mechanical properties, means there is a growing need to derive a more sustainable production process. By using peanut shells as the main reagent it prevents them from going to landfill, reducing the volume of agricultural waste. It also greatly reduces the amount of hazardous chemicals used, and removes the need for a high temperature furnace, making this process much more sustainable then those used conventionally.