A new method that uses nitrogen-rich biomass to produce N-doped carbon aerogel has been developed by our team. In conventional technology, N-doped carbon aerogels are produced through a two-step method including the preparation of carbon framework followed by nitriding with ammonia at high temperature. The carbon framework is typically prepared by using a template such as ordered mesoporous silica, polystyrene latex and poly(methyl methacrylate). The template removal is typically energy intensive and/or requires hazardous toxic materials. Our team has been successfully developed one-step method by using lignocellulose material using an ammonia-urea route to produce carbon aerogel and at the same time doping it with nitrogen. The use of ammonia in the low-temperature sol-gel method is clearly safer than heating by ammonia gas at high temperature. The N-doped carbon aerogel possesses a non‒ordered honeycomb-like pore structure, high surface area and pore volume, and an excellent electrochemical activity toward oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in alkaline media. Our work is also significant, as it presents a new way to replace noble metal such as Pt, an expensive electrocatalyst, in fuel cells or metal-air batteries.
This finding has just been published in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research and can be accessed here.
Thanks to Dr. Mar’atul Fauziyah for her excellent work during her doctoral program under PMDSU scholarship.