It's called Panace di Mantegazza, it is originally from the Caucasus, but has also reached Italy. It is one of the many alien plant species that have also come to our country, but in this case, it is dangerous, right from the contact: in fact, it is capable of causing burns to eyes and skin.
But researchers are interested in it to... create batteries. Such as? Taking advantage of the properties of its stems to create supercapacitors, elements capable of storing electricity significantly more than capacitors and which are used in the automotive sector, especially in storage solutions for electric cars.
VEGETABLE SUPERCONDENSORS, RESEARCH BORN IN RUSSIA A Russian team of scientists from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) has focused on these plants present in vast territories of Russia. They discovered their precious properties as materials for batteries, studying the inherent potential in their stems.
They have duly worked them to transform them into electrodes, elements capable of storing energy, experimentally demonstrating that the technology created in the laboratory can successfully replace traditional sources of energy without compromising the quality of the batteries.
Thus, they have developed parts of supercapacitors, used as electrical energy accumulators that have considerable potential. In fact, compared to chemical accumulators, they have the possibility of being charged or discharged almost instantly and count on a much higher number of charge/discharge cycles than traditional accumulators.
They are also distinguished from traditional batteries by their high power, in addition to having a long shelf life. These properties are partly explained by the fact that their composition of activated charcoal has a high surface area, particularly useful for the electrodes, on which the maximum volume of the accumulated charge directly depends.
FROM A PLANT TO RENEWABLE GREEN TECHNOLOGY AT ZERO COST The NUST team of researchers has identified optimal properties in the stalks of the Panace di Mantegazza, consisting of a firm bark and a soft internal core, similar that of a sponge.
Scientists are focused on processing to effectively treat and work the useful parts of the plant. The research is promising because it allows one to create innovative technological solutions in a highly sustainable way. In addition, since it is an invasive plant, its use will be possible by exploiting its natural abundance.