Scalable lignin/graphite electrodes formed by mechanochemistry†
Lignin is a promising candidate for energy storage because of its abundance, wide geographic distribution, and low cost as it is mainly available as a low value product from processing of wood into paper pulp. Lignin contains large amounts of potential quinone groups, which can be oxidized and reduced in a two electron process. This redox reaction makes lignin suitable for charge storage. However, lignin is insulating and therefore conductive materials are necessary in lignin electrodes, for whom the cost of the conductive materials hinders the scalable application. Among the organic conductive materials, graphite is one of the cheapest and is easily acquired from nature. In this work, we combine graphite and lignosulfonate (LS) and fabricate LS/graphite organic electrodes under a solvent-free mechanical milling method, without additives. The graphite is sheared into small particles with a size range from 50 nm to 2000 nm. Few-layer graphene is formed during the ball milling process. The LS/graphite hybrid material electrodes with primary stoichiometry of 4/1 (w/w) gives a conductivity of 280 S m−1 and discharge capacity of 35 mA h g−1. It is a promising material for the scalable production of LS organic electrodes.