Hierarchically porous metal-free carbon with record high mass activity for oxygen reduction and Zn-air batteries†
Improving the mass activity of metal-free carbon materials for oxygen reduction is more practically meaningful for developing energy devices (e.g., metal air batteries), but remains a great challenge. Here we proposed a facile strategy to produce metal-free carbon materials (termed HPNSC) with record-high mass activity based on a new robust β-cyclodextrin polymer network. This designed robust network can not only act as a self-template to create a hierarchically porous structure with a very large electrochemically active surface area (ECSA) of 429 m2 g−1, but can also serve as a self-sponsored network-anchored heteroatom doping source leading to a high intrinsic activity of 8.14 × 10−3 mA cm−2. The affluent mass-transport-favoring mesopores and macropores in HPNSC contribute to 83% of its ECSA, which affords a record mass activity of 35 mA mg−firstname.lastname@example.org V among metal-free carbon catalysts which is nearly two times higher than that of Pt/C in alkaline media. Furthermore, a primary zinc air battery using HPNSC displays a high peak power density of 144 mW cm−2 (110 mW cm−2 for the state-of-the-art Pt/C) and a high energy density of 1007 W h kgZn−1, which is the highest value among metal-free catalysts. Importantly, HPNSC also delivers higher activity and better stability in a rechargeable zinc air flow battery compared with the benchmark Pt/C.