Emerging applications of biochar-based materials for energy storage and conversion
Global warming, environmental pollution, and an energy shortage in the current fossil fuel society may cause a severe ecological crisis. Storage and conversion of renewable, dispersive and non-perennial energy from the sun, wind, geothermal sources, water, or biomass could be a promising option to relieve this crisis. Carbon materials could be the most versatile platform materials applied in the field of modern energy storage and conversion. Conventional carbon materials produced from coal and petrochemical products are usually energy intensive or involve harsh synthetic conditions. It is highly desired to develop effective methods to produce carbon materials from renewable resources that have high performance and limited environmental impacts. In this regard, biochar, a bio-carbon with abundant surface functional groups and easily tuned porosity produced from biomass, may be a promising candidate as a sustainable carbon material. Recent studies have demonstrated that biochar-based materials show great application potential in energy storage and conversion because of their easily tuned surface chemistry and porosity. In this review, recent advances in the applications of biochar-based materials in various energy storage and conversion fields, including hydrogen storage and production, oxygen electrocatalysts, emerging fuel cell technology, supercapacitors, and lithium/sodium ion batteries, are summarized, highlighting the mechanisms and open questions in current energy applications. Finally, contemporary challenges and perspectives on how biochar-based materials will develop and, in particular, the fields in which the use of biochar-based materials could be expanded are discussed throughout the review. This review demonstrates significant potential for energy applications of biochar-based materials, and it is expected to inspire new discoveries to promote practical applications of biochar-based materials in more energy storage and conversion fields.