KOH activation of carbon-based materials for energy storage
Because of their availability, adjustable microstructure, varieties of forms, and large specific surface area, porous carbon materials are of increasing interest for use in hydrogen storage adsorbents and electrode materials in supercapacitors and lithium–sulfur cells from the viewpoint of social sustainability and environmental friendliness. Therefore, much effort has been made to synthesize and tailor the microstructures of porous carbon materials via various activation procedures (physical and chemical activation). In particular, the chemical activation of various carbon sources using KOH as the activating reagent is very promising because of its lower activation temperature and higher yields, and well-defined micropore size distribution and ultrahigh specific surface area up to 3000 m2 g−1 of the resulting porous carbons. In this feature article, we will cover recent research progress since 2007 on the synthesis of KOH-activated carbons for hydrogen and electrical energy storage (supercapacitors and lithium–sulfur batteries). The textural properties and surface chemistry of KOH-activated carbons depend on not only the synthesis parameters, but also different carbon sources employed including fossil/biomass-derived materials, synthetic organic polymers, and various nanostructured carbons (e.g. carbon nanotubes, carbon nanofibers, carbon aerogels, carbide-derived carbons, graphene, etc.). Following the introduction to KOH activation mechanisms and processing technologies, the characteristics and performance of KOH-activated carbons as well as their relationships are summarized and discussed through the extensive analysis of the literature based on different energy storage systems.