Iron-catalyzed graphitization for the synthesis of nanostructured graphitic carbons
Carbons are versatile and diverse materials that have numerous applications across energy and environmental sciences. Carbons with a graphitic structure are particularly appealing due to their high chemical stability, large surface areas and high thermal and electronic conductivity. Numerous methods exist to produce nanostructured graphitic carbons but some of these can be energy-intensive and/or have problems with scalability. One option that is being increasingly explored is the process of iron-catalyzed graphitization. This simply involves the pyrolysis of carbon-rich precursors in the presence of an iron catalyst and has been used to produce carbons with a wide range of structures and properties. This review will examine the current field of iron-catalyzed graphitization, with a focus on molecular organic or biomass precursors. Bio-derived precursors are particularly attractive as a potential option for sustainable production of graphitic carbons. We start with a brief introduction to some key carbon structures, the current applications in which they are employed and some of the key methods that have been developed to produce nanostructured graphitic carbons. We will then review the history of catalytic graphitization before evaluating the wide range of conditions and precursors that have been employed in catalytic graphitization. Finally, this review will investigate the current challenges facing iron-catalyzed graphitization, looking particularly at the limitations of the current understanding of the mechanistic aspects of graphitization, with a view to outlining where research in this field might progress.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Journal of Materials Chemistry A Recent Review Articles