Iron-catalyzed graphitization of biomass†
This paper reports the direct transformation of raw lignocellulosic biomass into nanostructured graphitic carbon in a single step. Catalytic iron carbide nanoparticles are generated in situ by thermal decomposition of absorbed iron nitrate followed by carbothermal reduction. The Fe3C particles then etch through the biomass to generate intertwined graphitic tubules through catalytic graphitization. The materials are mesoporous with the pore size dependant on the iron content. Conversion of raw biomass into stable graphitic carbon at relatively low temperatures (800 °C) offers a promising route to large-scale and sustainable synthesis of carbons for electrode or filtration applications. This facile method can also be used to produce nanocomposites of Fe3C/graphite combined with nanoparticles of metal oxides such as CaO or MgO, again from a one-pot precursor, giving potential for a wide range of applications.