Research Highlight

Making use of diesel soot  

doi:10.1038/nindia.2017.10 Published online 30 January 2017

Researchers have synthesized carbon-based nanocomposites from diesel soot that can be used to fabricate supercapacitors, known to store large amount of charge and deliver high energy1.  

Diesel exhaust fumes pollute the environment with soot and fine particles which cause cancer, heart and lung disease, killing millions every year.

To find solutions to pollution and energy generation, scientists led by Gurmeet Singh from the University of Delhi prepared core-shell nanocomposites by oxidizing diesel-derived soot. The core was formed of spherical carbon nanobeads, while the shell was made of manganese oxide.

Supercapacitors made of the nanocomposites showed excellent conductivity and ability to store charge. Electrolyte could easily reach the core and shell of the nanocomposites, contributing to charge storage. Presence of inter- and intra-particle pores facilitated smooth flow of the electrolyte ions through the material.

Since the pores facilitated fast transport of ions, the nanocomposites displayed low resistance and improved conductivity. This method offers a cheap way to make energy storage material by efficient recycling of hazardous diesel soot.

“Besides their use in energy-storage devices and sensors, the nanocomposites could potentially be used for making dry cells, carbon brushes and as activated carbon to recover volatile organic solvents from air or vapour mixtures,” says Raj Kishore Sharma, one of the researchers from the Delhi University.    


1. Sahu, V. et al. Turning hazardous diesel soot into high performance carbon/MnO2 supercapacitive energy storage material. ACS. Sustainable. Chem. Eng. 5, 450-459 (2017)