New method to obtain biomass from porous carbonaceous materials

A team of researchers from China and the UK has developed a new modified molten salt-based technique for obtaining porous carbonaceous materials from biomass, presenting a more practical method that can improve the commercial viability of molten salt-based processes. large-scale biomass. Their article is currently in the pre-proof of publication phase in the journal Acta Electrochemistry.

Study: Simplified obtaining of porous carbonaceous materials from the gifts of nature. Image Credit: Slothandhippo/Shutterstock.com

Production of carbon materials from biomass sources

The ecological challenges of the 21st century have drawn the attention of researchers to renewable technologies to meet the energy and industrial needs of modern society and to improve the sustainability of the modern world. The urgent need to stop exploiting fossil fuels and replace them with environmentally sustainable alternatives has become extremely evident over the past decades.

Among the various strategies proposed to meet the challenges of anthropogenic climate change, biomass has become an attractive option for energy production and value-added industrial products. The production of carbonaceous materials from this organic resource has become a focus of research in recent years due to the favorable properties of the materials and their inherent durability and circularity.

There are three critical challenges that must be addressed for the widespread use of biomass-derived carbonaceous materials to be achieved effectively. First, an inert atmosphere is required due to the limitations of biomass and derived materials. Second, the high residual metal ash content present in the biomass adversely impacts performance. Third, the range of applications of carbon materials is limited due to the dependence of their porous structure on raw materials.

Some strategies have been developed in recent years to overcome these limitations, including the optimization of purification processes and the engineering of the porous structures of the product. Carbonization processes are commonly carried out in nitrogen and argon gas atmospheres. These gases are used because of their inertness, but they are usually expensive and the carbonization process requires the use of complex equipment.

Harsh acids and solvents are typically used to remove metallic impurities, and chemical activation and physical activation processes are used to produce materials with larger surface areas and more abundant pore structures. However, all of these strategies further increase the complexity and cost of producing biomass-derived carbonaceous materials.

More importantly, the use of complex and harsh reactions in the preparation of these materials has a deleterious effect on their macroscopic morphology. This severely limits the production of commercially viable carbon products from biomass. The search for strategies to overcome these problems is currently a key area of ​​research.

The use of molten salt to produce carbonaceous materials from biomass is a potential strategy that overcomes the challenges of conventional methods of synthesizing these materials. Exploring this research question is central to the new study Acta electrochemistry.

The study

The researchers used a molten salt strategy to produce valuable carbonaceous materials from biomass sources. The rice paper plant has been used as a specific precursor biomass material in research. The technique is a one-step carbonization process that can produce value-added carbonaceous materials without the need for inert gases, which otherwise increases synthesis costs. Additionally, the process does not require acid etching, activation steps, or the use of harsh reaction conditions.

Molten salt techniques are attractive due to their low synthesis temperature, favorable flux environment, low vapor pressure, low oxygen/water solubility, and high ability to dissolve inorganic compounds such as metal oxides and ions. The use of molten salt holds great promise for facilitating easier production of carbonaceous materials from biomass.

Research has highlighted the role of molten salts in dissolving metallic impurities in biomass, which forms large particles that then clump together on the surface of carbonaceous materials. These agglomerated particles can then be removed by ultrasonic treatment.

To further demonstrate the practical applications of the prepared carbonaceous materials derived from biomass, the authors prepared lithium-ion batteries and supercapacitors that used the materials. The results of these experiments demonstrated the superior performance of the prepared materials, attesting to the effectiveness of the proposed molten salt strategy.

The authors thoroughly studied the whole synthesis process and proposed that it is an optimal choice both for research purposes and for the industrial production of carbonaceous materials from biomass. The new synthetic strategy presented in the research has potential for applications in other energy conversion and storage technologies such as hydrogen storage and sensors, as well as other batteries and supercapacitors in addition to those studied in the article.

In summary, the authors presented the main results that will improve the cost, simplicity and efficiency of producing value-added carbon products from biomass sources. The paper has made a valuable contribution to the field of renewable energy collection and storage and offers several opportunities for future research.

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Further reading

Zhang, Y et al. (2022) Simplified obtaining of porous carbonaceous materials from the gifts of nature Electrochimica Acta. 140486 [online, pre-proof] sciencedirect.com. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0013468622006454

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