Asphaltene, a byproduct of petroleum production, consists of hundreds or even thousands of chemicals and is often used as fuel or discarded or landfilled.
These disposal methods do not make good use of the potential value of asphaltene and tend to cause environmental damage.
Recently, a study published in Science Advances proposed a method to convert asphalt into high-value graphene.
Asphaltene contains 70-80% carbon.
Using the flash Joule heating technique, scientists mixed poorly conductive asphaltene with 20% carbon black to increase its electrical conductivity.
The mixture is then heated to a temperature of 3,000 K in 100 milliseconds using high-voltage electric shock to convert it into graphene.
At the same time, the hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur in the asphaltene are converted into gases to be emitted.
The manufactured graphene can be mixed with polymers to make composites for 3D printing.