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Issue 36, 2017
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Soft-template assisted synthesis of Fe/N-doped hollow carbon nanospheres as advanced electrocatalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction in microbial fuel cells

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Abstract

Heteroatom-doped hollow carbon nanospheres (HCNs) have drawn significant attention as alternative catalysts towards the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). However, the simple and environmentally friendly synthesis of heteroatom-doped HCNs is a great challenge. Herein, an Fe/N-doped porous HCN (Fe/N-HCN) has been fabricated via a simple pyrolysis method using one-step synthesized poly(aniline-co-pyrrole) copolymer hollow nanospheres as precursors. The prepared Fe/N-HCN exhibited excellent ORR activity (onset potential of 0.02 V and half-wave potential of −0.12 V vs. Ag/AgCl), comparable to that of the Pt/C catalyst (onset potential of 0.01 V and half-wave potential of −0.14 V vs. Ag/AgCl) and superior to those of most of the reported noble metal-free carbon catalysts with hollow structures. The catalytic proficiency of the as-prepared catalyst was attributed to the abundant N and Fe atoms within the carbon lattice and a high surface area due to its hollow morphology. The as-prepared Fe/N-HCN also exhibited remarkable ORR activity in neutral solution, displaying potential application as a cathode catalyst in a microbial fuel cell (MFC). A maximum power density of 1300 ± 64 mW m−2 was achieved from an MFC equipped with the resultant Fe/N-HCN cathode, which outperformed that of the MFC with a Pt/C cathode. In this study, we reported a new approach for the production of Fe/N-doped carbon materials with a hollow morphology that exhibited high performance towards ORR.

Graphical abstract: Soft-template assisted synthesis of Fe/N-doped hollow carbon nanospheres as advanced electrocatalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction in microbial fuel cells

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Publication details

The article was received on 26 Jun 2017, accepted on 18 Aug 2017 and first published on 18 Aug 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7TA05522F
Citation: J. Mater. Chem. A, 2017,5, 19343-19350
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    Soft-template assisted synthesis of Fe/N-doped hollow carbon nanospheres as advanced electrocatalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction in microbial fuel cells

    L. Zhou, C. Yang, J. Wen, P. Fu, Y. Zhang, J. Sun, H. Wang and Y. Yuan, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2017, 5, 19343
    DOI: 10.1039/C7TA05522F

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