Affordable Sources of Commercial Graphene for Energy Applications


Graphene is a widely synthesized multifunctional carbon nanomaterial for its applications in composites, energy storage and sensors.

Study: Graphene/graphene derivatives from coal, biomass and waste: synthesis, energy applications and perspectives. Image Credit: pointbreak/Shutterstock.com

Although previous reviews have mentioned that obtaining increased yield compromises the quality of graphene, limiting its commercialization, recent research on graphene has highlighted the use of naturally abundant carbon sources for the cost-effective production of derivatives. of graphene.

An article published in the journal Energy and Fuels discussed recent advances in the synthesis of high-quality graphene from various naturally available carbonaceous materials with insight into their potential scalability for commercialization. Moreover, previously reported synthetic strategies were explored to determine the most suitable technique to obtain high-quality graphene derivatives in good yield.

The application of graphene derivatives in the energy sector was also discussed, highlighting their importance for energy storage. This review summarizes the current scenario of graphene production and gives an overview of their cost-effective production with high purity.

Graphene and Graphite

Among various carbon materials, graphene is an advanced carbon material. Moreover, its high functionality is due to its distinct two-dimensional (2D) polymer structure consisting of covalently bonded carbon atoms with sp2 hybridization, organized in a hexagonal lattice structure.

Additionally, the delocalized π electrons present in the aromatic ring of graphene contribute to improved thermal and electrical conductivity, tensile strength, high stiffness, high specific surface area, impermeability and durability. the superior optical transparency, making graphene an important and profitable carbonaceous carbon. equipment for industrial applications.

Graphite is one of the reliable raw materials for the synthesis of graphene and has a close structural similarity with it.

The “graphene structural unit” in the stacked structure of graphite makes it a suitable precursor for graphene synthesis. Liquid phase exfoliation (LPE) such as micromechanical exfoliation, supercritical fluid, mechanical cleavage, and electrochemical exfoliation are some of the established synthetic methods.

Coal for graphene derivatives

Coal is formed due to the natural process of coalification and is commonly used to generate electrical energy. The three-dimensional framework of coal is composed of various inorganic and organic materials forming a complex heterogeneous mixture. The organic domains of carbon constitute aromatic/hydroaromatic and aliphatic carbonaceous ring structures interconnected via aliphatic/ether bonds. On the other hand, the inorganic counterparts contain the constituents of sulfates, clays, silicates, carbonates, pyrites, and free minerals.

The polycondensed aromatic/hydroaromatic/heterocyclic carbon rings of carbon, linked by ether, methylene and carbon-aromatic carbon bonds, form a fascinating organic structure within its structural matrix.

Anthracite coal has a high degree of coalification with several sp2 hybrid carbon microcrystals. The previously reported taixi anthracite was prepared from coal, in which raw coal was initially converted to graphite-like carbonaceous material by graphitization at 2400 degrees Celsius for two hours and in the presence of iron(III) sulfate (Fe2(SO4)3) as a catalyst. Later, the graphite-like carbon material was oxidized to graphite-like carbon oxides via the method of Hummers.

On the other hand, bituminous coal, synthesized as a feedstock for coal-derived graphene films, involved initial electrolysis followed by a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process. During electrolysis, a carbon electrolytic cell was used with a 4 molar concentration of sulfuric acid as the electrolyte.

40 millimolar iron(II) sulfate heptahydrate and 40 millimolar Fe2(SO4)3 were used as a source of iron ions along with the addition of carbon to the anode solution. Later, the charcoal obtained was treated by electrolysis treated with the CVD system.

Low Cost Carbonaceous Precursor (LCP) and Biomass for Graphene Derivatives

Biomass materials are widely used as graphene precursors due to their structural and chemical suitability, easy operation and low cost. A previous report mentioned peanut shells as agricultural waste biomass to synthesize few-layered graphene via probe sonication. Other biosources such as grass and cockroach feet have also been reported as precursors for obtaining high quality monolayer graphene derivatives.

The LCP-based material serves as a raw material for the large-scale production of low-cost graphene with optimum quality. The advantages of high yield and scalability of LCP-based graphene derivatives enable their applicability in sensors, energy storage, water treatment and catalysis. Since graphene is widely used in energy storage devices as an electrode material, LCP-based graphene derivatives can meet the need for high-quality, low-cost graphene required to fabricate devices. energy storage.

Conclusion

In summary, a naturally abundant and inexpensive carbonaceous material has proven to be an affordable and suitable source for producing commercial graphene. LCP-based graphene derivatives have shown excellent electrochemical properties for their energy storage applications. Despite graphite’s importance as a precursor to commercial graphene, low-cost carbonaceous materials like coal fulfill the need for a high-quality, cost-effective commercially obtained graphene derivative.

Moreover, the raw material and the synthetic methodology used in the synthesis of graphene have a great impact on the characteristics of graphene. LCP feedstock can serve as an effective alternative precursor to carbon for large-scale commercialization of graphene derivatives in an economical manner.

Reference

Tamuly, J., Bhattacharjya, D., Saikia, BK. (2022). Graphene/graphene derivatives from coal, biomass and waste: synthesis, energy applications and perspectives. Energy and fuels. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.energyfuels.2c00976

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