From grass to battery anode: agricultural biomass hemp-derived carbon for lithium storage†
Biomass-derived carbon, as a low-cost material source, is an attractive choice to prepare carbon materials, thus providing an alternative to by-product and waste management. Herein, we report the preparation of carbon from hemp stem as a biomass precursor through a simple, low-cost, and environment-friendly method with using steam as the activating agent. The hemp-derived carbon with a hierarchically porous structure and a partial graphitization in amorphous domains was developed, and for the first time, it was applied as an anode material for lithium-ion battery. Natural hemp itself delivers a reversible capacity of 190 mA h g−1 at a rate of 300 mA g−1 after 100 cycles. Ball-milling of hemp-derived carbon is further designed to control the physical properties, and consequently, the capacity of milled hemp increases to 300 mA h g−1 along with excellent rate capability of 210 mA h g−1 even at 1.5 A g−1. The milled hemp with increased graphitization and well-developed meso-porosity is advantageous for lithium diffusion, thus enhancing electrochemical performance via both diffusion-controlled intercalation/deintercalation and surface-limited adsorption/desorption. This study not only demonstrates the application of hemp-derived carbon in energy storage devices, but also guides a desirable structural design for lithium storage and transport.