COVID-19 clinical waste reuse: A triboelectric touch sensor for IoT-cloud supported smart hand sanitizer dispenser

Nano Energy. 2023 Apr;108:108183. doi: 10.1016/j.nanoen.2023.108183. Epub 2023 Jan 7.


Earth’s plastic pollution has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the world is on the doorstep of an enormous waste pandemic. The extensive use of mandatory personal protectives like masks, gloves, and PPE kits and the lack of proper waste management systems lead to a rise in the plastic pollution content of the earth. Such disposable and non-biodegradable personal protectives are thrown out to the environment after use. These distributed wastes pollute land, soil, and water bodies and effects their ecosystems. This research work establishes the concept of a waste-to-energy conversion approach to reuse COVID-19 scraps for green and sustainable development. Three-layered surgical masks and nitrile gloves were reused in this work after sterilization for energy harvesting and sensing applications by fabricating a 3D-printed contact-separation-based triboelectric nanogenerator. A piece of three-layered mask and nitrile gloves were placed inside the 3D structure as the top negative and bottom positive triboelectric materials with copper and aluminum as corresponding electrodes (MG-CS TENG). It can convert external mechanical motions into electrical energy. The maximum voltage, current, and power density obtained from the device are 50.7 V, 4.8 µA, and 6.39 µW/cm2, respectively, for a mechanical force of 9 N. The harvested energy was sufficient to power small-scale electronic devices like digital tally counters, wristwatches, lumex displays, and series connected 25 LEDs. MG-CS TENG was also performed as a pedal-operated touch sensor to dispense hand sanitizer. MG-CS TENG was pedal pressed to trigger a microcontroller and control the solenoid valve’s opening and closing to regulate sanitizer flow. The setup was integrated using the internet of things (IoT) and Blynk cloud services for the remote monitoring and controlling of the sanitizer dispenser using a smartphone. This work contributes a substantial role in disaster management to suppress microplastic environmental pollution by reusing pandemic wastes for energy harvesting and sensing applications and preventing the spread of coronavirus through proper hand sanitization.

PMID:36643902 | PMC:PMC9822840 | DOI:10.1016/j.nanoen.2023.108183


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