Researchers in Brazil and the UK have successfully recycled the plastic from used coffee capsules into filaments for 3D printers. The filament was then used to make electrochemical cells that were used as sensors to detect the amount of caffeine in black tea and arabica coffee.
The non-conductive parts of the sensors were made with non-conductive polylactic acid (PLA) extracted from coffee pods, and the conductive elements of the electrochemical sensors were printed with conductive filaments that were prepared by adding carbon black to the same recycled PLA. stock. Carbon black is a form of carbon that results from the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons.
The production of the filament is simple; the non-conductive material is obtained by washing and drying the PLA capsules, followed by hot extrusion. To obtain the conductive material, carbon black is added before heating and extrusion.
The extruded material is then cooled and wound to produce the filament. The process is a good example of a circular economy, in which the waste produced by one economic activity becomes a resource for another. The polymer base obtained from used coffee pods can generate devices with great added value.
The study was led by Brazilian researchers from the Federal University of São Carlos and the State University of Campinas, and British researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University. A research paper on the project has been published in the ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering journal, and can be accessed at this link.
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