This article originally appeared on VICE Asia.
The durian has got to be the most polarising fruit. Some consider the Southeast Asian delicacy the “king of fruits” and love its custard-like meat, while others can’t even go near it because of its pungent smell. Some hotels and public transportation even ban it. The late Anthony Bourdain once said that eating durian would make your breath smell like “you’ve been French-kissing your dead grandmother."
No matter where you stand in the argument, you’ll likely still find this new discovery about the stinkiest fruit in the world cool. It turns out, the durian is useful for so much more than just dessert.
According to Vincent Gomes and his team of researchers, they’ve uncovered a process wherein the guts of the fruit and its cousin the jackfruit can be turned into supercapacitors capable of storing vast amounts of energy.
In the paper, the scientists say that due to climate change and the rapid depletion of fossil fuels, manufacturers are now developing energy storage devices called supercapacitors.
Supercapacitors have high energy density and "promote rapid energy capture and delivery." These babies can charge your phone at lightning-fast speeds.
The durian was found to be “ideal energy storage candidates” with a superior ability to maintain full battery cycles. This means it could help power a supercapacitor that could be used for powering everything from portable medical devices to batteries for transport vehicles.
Supercapacitors are constructed with two metal foils that are each coated with an electrode material, like activated carbon. From the durian, the researchers created a carbon aerogel, similar to the silica packets found in food and shoes to keep moisture out. This has been done in the past with other fruit peels such as watermelons and pomelo, but compared to other fruits, the durian and jackfruit reigned supreme.
The researchers wrote that compared to hard and dense fruits, the durian’s “fibruous, fleshy” organic waste were found to have good “mechanical stability,” making it a good candidate.
If this process is adopted by manufacturers, the new approach to electrical storage will be a “godsend for the environment,” Gomes and his coauthors said.
"Converting food wastes into value-added products will not only improve the overall economy but also reduce environmental pollution.”