Sustainable carbon materials
Carbon-based structures are the most versatile materials used in the modern field of renewable energy (i.e., in both generation and storage) and environmental science (e.g., purification/remediation). However, there is a need and indeed a desire to develop increasingly more sustainable variants of classical carbon materials (e.g., activated carbons, carbon nanotubes, carbon aerogels, etc.), particularly when the whole life cycle is considered (i.e., from precursor “cradle” to “green” manufacturing and the product end-of-life “grave”). In this regard, and perhaps mimicking in some respects the natural carbon cycles/production, utilization of natural, abundant and more renewable precursors, coupled with simpler, lower energy synthetic processes which can contribute in part to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions or the use of toxic elements, can be considered as crucial parameters in the development of sustainable materials manufacturing. Therefore, the synthesis and application of sustainable carbon materials are receiving increasing levels of interest, particularly as application benefits in the context of future energy/chemical industry are becoming recognized. This review will introduce to the reader the most recent and important progress regarding the production of sustainable carbon materials, whilst also highlighting their application in important environmental and energy related fields.