Tuning Carbon Materials for Supercapacitors by Direct Pyrolysis of Seaweeds

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Abstract

The sea provides a large variety of seaweeds that, because of their chemical composition, are fantastic precursors of nanotextured carbons. The carbons are obtained by the simple pyrolysis of the seaweeds under a nitrogen atmosphere between 600 and 900 °C, followed by rinsing the product in slightly acidic water. Depending on the origin of the seaweed and on the pyrolysis conditions, the synthesis may be oriented to give an oxygen-enriched carbon or to give a tuned micro/mesoporous carbon. The samples with a rich oxygenated surface functionality are excellent as supercapacitor electrodes in an aqueous medium whereas the perfectly tuned porous carbons are directly applicable for organic media. In both cases, the specific surface area of the attained carbons does not exceed 1300 m2 g−1, which results in high-density materials. As a consequence, the volumetric capacitance is very high, making these materials more interesting than activated carbons from the point of view of developing small and compact electric power sources. Such versatile carbons, obtained by a simple, ecological, and cheap process, could be well used for environment remediation such as water and air treatment.

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