Amending the Structure of Renewable Carbon from Biorefinery Waste- Streams for Energy Storage Applications

HC Ho and M Goswami and JH Chen and JK Keum and AK Naskar, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 8, 8355 (2018).

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-25880-0

Biorefineries produce impure sugar waste streams that are being underutilized. By converting this waste to a profitable by-product, biorefineries could be safeguarded against low oil prices. We demonstrate controlled production of useful carbon materials from the waste concentrate via hydrothermal synthesis and carbonization. We devise a pathway to producing tunable, porous spherical carbon materials by modeling the gross structure formation and developing an understanding of the pore formation mechanism utilizing simple reaction principles. Compared to a simple hydrothermal synthesis from sugar concentrate, emulsion-based synthesis results in hollow spheres with abundant microporosity. In contrast, conventional hydrothermal synthesis produces solid beads with micro and mesoporosity. All the carbonaceous materials show promise in energy storage application. Using our reaction pathway, perfect hollow activated carbon spheres can be produced from waste sugar in liquid effluence of biomass steam pretreatment units. The renewable carbon product demonstrated a desirable surface area of 872 m(2)/g and capacitance of up to 109 F/g when made into an electric double layer supercapacitor. The capacitor exhibited nearly ideal capacitive behavior with 90.5% capacitance retention after 5000 cycles.

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