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Autogenic reactions, based on the decomposition of one or more precursors at elevated temperatures with self generated pressures can be used to prepare a wide range of materials with interesting structural, morphological and technological properties. Recent reports that spherical carbon particles and carbon nanotubes can be prepared by this technique from waste products, such as used plastic bags, have highlighted this environmentally-attractive approach to synthesize new or modified carbon-based materials. In this paper, we report the synthesis of spherical carbon particles and carbon nanotubes and their evaluation as negative electrodes (anodes) in lithiumelectrochemical cells. A steady reversible capacity of approximately 240 mAh/g for hundreds of cycles was achieved from both types of carbon, when cycled at a 1C rate between 1.5 V and 5 mV. A reversible capacity of 372 mAh/g, i.e., the theoretical value for graphite, was obtained from the carbon nanotubeelectrodes by raising the upper voltage limit to 3 V. To increase the graphitic order in the carbon spheres, the particles were heated to 2400 °C in an inert atmosphere. This treatment reduced the first cycle irreversible capacity loss of Li/C half cells from 60 to 20%, the spherical carbon electrodes yielding a stable 252 mAh/g discharge capacity for numerous cycles. Structural and morphological information about the parent and cycled carbon electrodes, obtained by powder X-ray diffraction, Raman spectroscopy, high-resolution scanning electron microscopy, and electron dispersive analysis of X-rays is provided.
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Energy & Environmental Science
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