Bio-waste onion skin as innovative nature-driven piezoelectric material with high energy conversion efficiency


 Environmental pollution today has become one of the global challenges that need to be addressed urgently. The burning of fossil fuels is the highest pollutant, and thus it is recommended to use and develop green and renewable sources of energy. Although there are various sources of green energy such as the solar energy, piezoelectric generators have become more useful. They have added advantages over its counterparts like triboelectric nanogenerators due to its high durability, high performance, and high sensitivity. For biomedical purposes, the material used for fabrication of these piezoelectric nanogenerators should be biodegradable, non-toxic and biocompatible. Collagen fibrils have been found to be one of the materials that can be used in the fabrication of biomedical piezoelectric nanogenerators. They are both biocompatible and biodegradable and are found naturally from tissues of mammals. This work, however, focuses on utilizing bio-compatible and biodegradable onion skins from waste products and garbage as a piezoelectric material. It is readily available, inexpensive and does not require chemical treatment.

Researchers at Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea: Dr. Sandip Maiti, Juhyun Lee, Dr. Avnish Kumar Mishra, and Professor Jin Kon Kim in collaboration with Sumanta Kumar Karan and Professor Bhanu Bhusan Khatua from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India developed a bio-piezoelectric nanogenerator with waste onion skin as the piezoelectric material. The technology is preferred over others due to its efficiency and effectiveness. The work has been published in the Nano Energy journal.

The research team used onion skins from garbage as a piezoelectric material for the generation of renewable energy from biomechanical activities. Onion skin bio-piezoelectric nanogenerators (OSBPNG) is ultrasensitive towards throat movements such as drinking, swallowing, and coughing. Because it is also very sensitive to minute pressures originated from heart or pulse, it could be effective in various in-vivo biomedical diagnoses and e-healthcare monitoring.

The results obtained demonstrated the effectiveness and efficiency of the material. For instance, it performed better regarding output voltage, piezoelectric strength, and current. However, the paraments mentioned above depended on the number of units used. Six units in series, for example, produced up to 106 volts.

The study is the first to use of onion skin as a piezoelectric material and will help in advancing the area as it is more convenient compare to other materials. Also, plant materials are much more usefulness than living creatures in both handling and supply. Onion skin is readily available as waste products. Their significant advantage is that they are inexpensive, biodegradable, biocompatible and do not require chemical treatment.

 OSBPNGs have high power density. The current and output voltage produced depends on the units used. The more units, the more voltage/current produced. The units work better when arranged in series or parallel. This means that it can be used for large-scale production. OSBPNG can be a useful tool in harvesting energy from the human body movement and activities. It does not matter whether the body is at rest or work. The device is also sensitive to body movements and signals including heartbeat, throat movement, eating, coughing and running among others.

With the high demand of smart electronics devices in the industrial applications today, the use of onion skin is expected to increase tremendously. This is because OSBPNG is self-powered devices that can be used for both the small-scale and large-scale applications. The material is environmentally friendly as it can be recycled from the available bio-waste products. With such devices, the future is promising.

Bio-waste onion skin as an innovative nature-driven piezoelectric material with high energy conversion efficiency.. Advances in Engineering. Advances in Engineering

About the author

Dr. Sandip Maiti received his B.Sc. (Chemistry, in 2005) from Midnapore College, India, and M.Sc. from Vidyasagar University, in 2007. Subsequently he joined Prof. B. B. Khatua’s Group for his PhD where his research interests include preparation of conducting polymer nanocomposites based on carbon nanotube and graphene, EMI shielding, energy storage supercapacitor and piezo-, tribo-, and ferro-electric nanogenerator. He was awarded PhD degree in 2014 from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT KGP), India. Currently, he is working as postdoctoral fellow under Prof. Jin, Kon Kim in POSTECH (South Korea).

About the author

Mr. Sumanta Kumar Karan is pursuing PhD under the supervision of Prof. B. B. Khatua at Materials Science Centre, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India. He received his B.Sc. degree in chemistry from Vidyasagar University, Midnapore, India in 2007. He received his M.Sc. degree in chemistry from Guru Ghasidas University, India in 2009, and M.Tech. degree in Materials Engineering from Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology Shibpur, India in 2012 with gold medal for standing 1st in M.Tech. His research interest includes polymer/oxides/CNT/graphene based piezo-, tribo-, and ferro-electric energy harvester, fabrication of self-charging supercapacitor devices for smart applications.

About the author

Ms. Juhyun Lee received her B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering Department from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in South Korea (2014). Now she is pursuing PhD under Prof. Jin Kon Kim in the same department in POSTECH. Her research mainly focuses on polymer-based nanogenerator.

About the author

Dr. Avnish Kumar Mishra received his B.Sc. and M.Sc from Kanpur University, India. Subsequently, He was awarded Ph.D. degree in 2013 from Banaras Hindu University (BHU), India. His research is synthesis and phase behavior property of block copolymer. Currently, he is working as postdoctoral fellow under Prof. Jin, Kon Kim in POSTECH (South Korea).

About the author

Prof. Bhanu Bhusan Khatua received his B.Sc. (1994) and M.Sc. (1996) in Chemistry from Vidyasagar University, India. He was awarded Ph.D. degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (IIT KGP) in 2001. He did postdoctoral research at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (IIT-Haifa), Israel with Prof. Moshe Narkis (2000–2002) and at POSTECH (2002), South Korea with Prof. Jin Kon Kim in the field of polymer nanocomposites. He worked as research scientist in General Electric, India (2004–2007). Presently, he is an Associate Professor in IIT KGP. His research interests include polymer blends, polymer nanocomposites, supercapacitors, EMI shielding materials, piezoelectric/triboelectric nanogenerator. He is author of more than 100 research publications in various internationally reputed journals.

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About the author

Prof. Jin Kon Kim is a POSTECH fellow and a full professor of Chemical Engineering of POSTECH. Also, he is the director of the Center for Smart Block Copolymer Self-Assembly funded by the National Creativity Research Initiative Program supported by National Research Foundation in Korea. He received his B.S. (1980) from Seoul National University (Korea) in Chemical Engineering and M.S. (1982) from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (Korea) in Chemical Engineering, and Ph.D. (1990) from Polytechnic University in Chemical Engineering. His research interests include phase behavior and transition of block copolymers, development of new functional nanocomposites containing polymer blends.


Maiti, S., Kumar Karan, S., Lee, J., Kumar Mishra, A., Bhusan Khatua, B., & Kon Kim, J. (2017). Bio-waste onion skin as an innovative nature-driven piezoelectric material with high energy conversion efficiencyNano Energy42, 282-293.


Go To Nano Energy 

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