Turning Used Face Masks Into New Energy

Written by Linda S. Hohnholz

In the first 3 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, 5,500 metric tons of face masks were produced. At the rate of about 130 billion masks per month, used and potentially contaminated masks were piling up that could not be burned, because doing so would produce toxic gases.

These masks ended up in huge piles on the coasts of Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, France, and the US. So how are these masks that the world continues to use being disposed of?

Masks that are coming out of hospitals are being disposed of by class-A waste management companies. After all, medical facilities have long been dealing with the need to dispose of surgical masks in a safe manner, long before COVID-19 reared its ugly head.

But as far as face masks worn today by the general public go, disposal of used one is falling somewhere in a murky area that is below medical waste and usually considered general waste. And as far as personal disposal goes, did you know that you are supposed to put double bag the used mask in two plastic bags that have been tied off before you put it in your trash bin?

Fine, you do that, but then what happens to that mask? It just goes to the same place as general waste. In most places that means to a landfill or an incinerator. And we already know now that it isn’t a good idea to burn them. But hanging around in a landfill could mean toxins leaching into our water supply or washing out and ending up in the oceans where there already is a problem with trash.

In a rather unique twist, researchers from the National University of Science and Technology in Russia partnered with colleagues in the United States and Mexico and developed a technology that can turn mask waste into raw materials. From there, the materials can be recycled into cost-effective batteries.

These batteries are thin and flexible as well as being disposable and can be used throughout the home to power everything from lamps to clocks. These are far better than the traditional metal-coated batteries that are heavier and cost more to produce. The scientists can foresee this new technology to manufacture batteries being applied to other uses such as solar power stations and electric cars.

Click here to view the original article.

The information on this page may have been provided by a contributor to ChinaGoAbroad, and ChinaGoAbroad makes no guarantees about the accuracy of any content. All content shall be used for informational purposes only. Contributors must obtain all necessary licenses and/or ownership rights from the relevant content owner(s) before submitting such content (including texts, pictures, photos and diagrams) to ChinaGoAbroad for publication. ChinaGoAbroad disclaims all liability arising from the publication of any content/information (such as texts, pictures, photos and diagrams that infringe on any copyright) received from contributors. Links may direct to third party sites out of the control of ChinaGoAbroad, and such links shall not be considered an endorsement by ChinaGoAbroad of any information contained on such third party sites. Please refer to our Disclaimer for more details.