Cow dung-derived nitrogen-doped carbon as a cost effective, high activity, oxygen reduction electrocatalyst
N-doped carbon materials are promising metal-free catalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in fuel cells. However, their practical application depends on both significant cost reduction (by using low-cost precursors) and further improvement of their catalytic activity. Herein, we report a low-cost and scalable synthesis procedure to prepare a highly active N-doped carbon ORR catalyst using only cow dung as a source of carbon and nitrogen. The obtained catalyst produced high ORR activity comparable to commercial Pt/C in a 0.1 M KOH solution regarding both ORR onset potential and half-wave potential, and had excellent tolerance to methanol crossover as well as a stable ORR cycling performance. Furthermore, the use of cow dung puts a source of greenhouse gas pollution to good use as an ORR catalyst for clean energy production in fuel cells.