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CHAPTER 1

The Search for Functional Porous Carbons from Sustainable Precursors

The design and development of carbon-based porous materials perhaps represents one of the most adaptable areas of materials science research. These materials are ubiquitous with the current energy and chemical production infrastructure and as will be highlighted in this book will be absolutely critical in technology development associated with green, sustainable energy/chemical provision (e.g. electricity generation and storage; the Methanol Economy, Biorefinery, etc.) and environmental science (e.g. purification/remediation, gas sorption, etc.). However, alongside these environmental and sustainable provision schemes, there will also be a concurrent need to produce and develop more sustainable porous carbon materials (e.g. microporous, mesoporous, carbon aerogels, etc.). This is particularly relevant when considering the whole life cycle of a product (i.e. from precursor “cradle” to “green” manufacturing and the product end-of-life “grave”). In this regard, carbon materials scientists can take their inspiration from nature and look to the products of natural photosynthetic carbon cycles (e.g. glucose, polysaccharides, lignocellulosics, etc.) as potential precursors in the synthesis of applicable porous carbon materials. If such synthetic strategies are coupled with simpler, lower-energy synthetic processes, then materials production (e.g. the separation media) can in turn contribute to the reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions or the use of toxic elements. These are crucial parameters to be considered in sustainable materials manufacturing. Furthermore, these materials must present useful, beneficial (and preferably tuneable) physicochemical and porous properties, which are least comparable and ideally better than carbon materials (e.g. carbon aerogels, activated carbons, etc.) synthesised via more energy-intensive and less-sustainable pathways. This introductory chapter introduces these concepts and provides the basis for the following book which will provide an introduction and discussion of the possible synthetic pathways to the production of applicable porous carbon materials from sustainable precursors and practices. Furthermore, throughout this book, the application of these exciting sustainable carbon-based materials in the increasingly important field of sustainable chemical and energy provision will be introduced and discussed.

Print publication date: 20 Feb 2015
Copyright year: 2015
Print ISBN: 978-1-84973-832-3
PDF eISBN: 978-1-78262-227-7
ePub eISBN: 978-1-78262-443-1
Citation:
From the book series:
Green Chemistry Series