An aqueous-based approach for the scalable synthesis of nitrogen-doped porous carbons with high specific surface area (SSA) and high nitrogen content is presented. Low molecular weight polyacrylonitrile (PAN) is solubilized in water in the presence of ZnCl2 that also acts as a volatile porogen during PAN pyrolysis to form mesoporous structures with significantly increased SSA. By templating with commercial SiO2 nanoparticles, nanocellulose fillers or filter paper, nanocarbons with SSA = 1776, 1366, and 1501 m2/g, respectively and 10 wt % N content were prepared. The materials formed by this benign process showed excellent catalytic activity in oxygen reduction reaction via the four-electron mechanism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry