Hoy (Vincent) Chun Wai, Malaysia

Hoy Chun Wai is an undergraduate student from the School of Engineering at Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU), Malaysia. He is currently pursuing his third year Bachelors degree in Mechatronics Engineering. His interest in science began when he built his first solenoid magnet. He also has a deep interest in communication and leadership. Hence he has been actively involved in organisations such as Toastmasters International. Through his experience gained from Toastmasters, he hopes to bridge the knowledge gap between the scientific community and the public in general, regarding the advances of materials science.

Nanocellulose: Nature's Answer to Energy Poverty

One of the biggest social challenges of our generation is the problem of energy poverty. It refers to the poor access to energy, such as electricity, by certain groups of people. One major factor is the cost of infrastructure development in remote areas. A potential solution is to use technology such as solar panels to provide energy directly to people, but there needs to be a reliable energy storage facility. Current battery technology is unable to provide the cost efficiency for this to take flight. A potential solution is to use Carbon Nanotubes to make batteries but these have a poor rate of ionic exchange in aqueous electrolytes due to their hydrophobic nature.

This study presents the potential of Nanocellulose as a game changer in battery technology when combined with Carbon Nanotubes. Carbon Nanotubes are coated with Nanocellulose to create a conducting film capable of storing large sums of charge and enabling efficient ion exchange in aqueous electrolyte. This is made possible by the presence of nanopores and the hydrophilic nature of nanocellulose. The charge capacity and charge retention of the material is tested and compared with other battery materials currently available. The projected results have shown that Nanocellulose-Carbon Nanotube film outperforms most of the current forms of batteries, especially its charge cycle retention after 100 cycles. This means that the battery can be recharged more often before experiencing significant capacity loss and the need to be replaced. The increase in performance will significantly reduce the cost of storing energy, as batteries need not be replaced as often.

This will be a major step forward to the creation of communities living off the grid and an end to the problem of energy poverty.

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