Egg-Box Structure in Cobalt Alginate: A New Approach to Multifunctional Hierarchical Mesoporous N-Doped Carbon Nanofibers for Efficient Catalysis and Energy Storage
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Carbon nanomaterials with both doped heteroatom and porous structure represent a new class of carbon nanostructures for boosting electrochemical application, particularly sustainable electrochemical energy conversion and storage applications. We herein demonstrate a unique large-scale sustainable biomass conversion strategy for the synthesis of earth-abundant multifunctional carbon nanomaterials with well-defined doped heteroatom level and multimodal pores through pyrolyzing electrospinning renewable natural alginate. The key part for our chemical synthesis is that we found that the egg-box structure in cobalt alginate nanofiber can offer new opportunity to create large mesopores (∼10–40 nm) on the surface of nitrogen-doped carbon nanofibers. The as-prepared hierarchical carbon nanofibers with three-dimensional pathway for electron and ion transport are conceptually new as high-performance multifunctional electrochemical materials for boosting the performance of oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), lithium ion batteries (LIBs), and supercapacitors (SCs). In particular, they show amazingly the same ORR activity as commercial Pt/C catalyst and much better long-term stability and methanol tolerance for ORR than Pt/C via a four-electron pathway in alkaline electrolyte. They also exhibit a large reversible capacity of 625 mAh g–1 at 1 A g–1, good rate capability, and excellent cycling performance for LIBs, making them among the best in all the reported carbon nanomaterials. They also represent highly efficient carbon nanomaterials for SCs with excellent capacitive behavior of 197 F g–1 at 1 A g–1 and superior stability. The present work highlights the importance of biomass-derived multifunctional mesoporous carbon nanomaterials in enhancing electrochemical catalysis and energy storage.
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