Light-weight 3D Co–N-doped hollow carbon spheres as efficient electrocatalysts for rechargeable zinc–air batteries†
Rational design of cost-effective, nonprecious metal-based catalysts with a desirable oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) performance by a simple and economical synthesis route is a great challenge for the commercialization of future fuel cell and metal–air batteries. Herein, light-weight 3D Co–N-doped hollow carbon spheres (Co–NHCs) have been fabricated via a facile emulsion approach followed by carbonization. The prepared 0.1-Co–NHCs catalyst with suitable Co doping content exhibits favorable ORR catalytic activity (onset potential of 0.99 V and half-wave potential of 0.81 V vs. RHE), comparable to that of commercial Pt–C (onset potential of 1.02 V and half-wave potential of 0.83 V vs. RHE) and rivals that of Pt–C with better cycling stability. The excellent performance of the catalyst is attributed to the synergetic effect of Co and N doping with a high total ratio of active sites, high surface area and good conductivity of the material. More impressively, the assembled rechargeable zinc–air batteries based on the 0.1-Co–NHCs catalyst outperform those afforded by commercial Pt–C. The progress presented in this reported work is of great importance in the development of outstanding non-noble metal based electrocatalysts for the fuel cell and metal–air battery industry.
- This article is part of the themed collections: Research selection from the NCNST and International Year of the Periodic Table: Elements for Next Generation Batteries