Experiment Shows Cigarette Butts May Prevent Corrosion of N80 Steel
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A new study, led by Jun Zhao, Ph.D., Zi'an Jiatong University in China, has found a way to reuse the remains of cigarettes to prevent steel corrosion that costs oil producers millions of dollars annually. “Cigarette Butts and Their Application in Corrosion Inhibition for N80 Steel at 90°C in a Hydrochloric Acid Solution” appears in the American Chemical Society's Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, a bi-weekly journal.
Zhao and colleagues cite one estimate that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts find their way into the environment each year. Studies show that cigarette butts contain toxins that can kill fish and harm the environment in other ways. Recycling could solve those problems, but finding practical uses for cigarette butts has been difficult.
The scientists showed that extracts of cigarette butts in water, applied to a type of steel (N80) widely used in the oil industry, protected the steel from rusting, preventing costly damage and interruptions in oil production. They identified nine chemicals in the extracts, including nicotine, which appear to be responsible for this anti-corrosion effect.