Creative utilization of natural nanocomposites: nitrogen-rich mesoporous carbon for high performance sodium ion battery
A resource-abundant, low-cost and high-performance anode is indispensable to the future success of sodium ion batteries (SIBs) for application in large-scale energy storage. Animal wastes are naturally pre-organized organic/inorganic nanocomposite materials composed of collagen and nano-minerals. Making the best use of these natural nanocomposites is a good choice to develop carbon anodes for SIBs. Here, using shrimp skin as an example, we demonstrate nitrogen-rich mesoporous carbon materials can be simply prepared from natural nanocomposite for high performance SIBs. Being used as a precursor for porous carbon, the collagen is a nitrogen-rich carbon precursor, while the nano-mineral, distributed evenly in the collagen matrix, acts as a hard template to create mesopores. By direct pyrolysis under inert atmosphere and followed mineral removal, the shrimp skin is easily transferred into nitrogen-rich mesoporous carbons, a high performance sodium storage material, turning “trash” into “treasure”. The unique microstructure makes the nitrogen-rich mesoporous carbon exhibit outstanding performances as anodes for SIBs. The reversible sodium storage capacity reaches as high as 434.6 mAh g-1 at 30 mA g-1 with excellent cycle durability and rate capability. These results indicate the creative utilization of natural nanocomposites is a facile, sustainable strategy for the synthesis of high performance sodium storage materials.