Journal article Open Access

Tailoring of the pore structures of wood pyrolysis chars for potential use in energy storage applications

Przemyslaw Maziarka; Peter Sommersacher; Xia Wang; Norbert Kienzl; Stefan Retschitzegger; Wolter Prins; Niklas Hedin; Frederik Ronsse

Char obtained from biomass pyrolysis is an eco-friendly porous carbon, which has potential use as a material for electrodes in supercapacitors. For that application, a high microporous specific surface area (SSA) is desired, as it relates to the accessible surface for an applied electrolyte. Currently, the incomplete understanding of the relation between porosity development and production parameters hinders the production of tailor-made, bio-based pyrochars for use as electrodes. Additionally, there is a problem with the low reliability in assessing textual properties for bio-based pyrochars by gas adsorption. To address the aforementioned problems, beech wood cylinders of two different lengths, with and without pre-treatment with citric acid were pyrolysed at temperatures of 300–900 °C and analysed by gas adsorption. The pyrolyzed chars were characterised with adsorption with N2 and CO2 to assess the influence of production parameters on the textual properties. The new approach in processing the gas adsorption data used in this study demonstrated the required consistency in assessing the micro- and mesoporosity. The SSA of the chars rose monotonically in the investigated range of pyrolysis temperatures. The pre-treatment with citric acid led to an enhanced SSA, and the length of the cylinders correlated with a reduced SSA. With pyrolysis at 900 °C, the micro-SSAs of samples with 10 mm increased by on average 717 ± 32 m2/g. The trends among the investigated parameters and the textual properties were rationalized and provide a sound basis for further studies of tailor-made bio-based pyrochars as electrode materials in supercapacitors.

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