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Study on the preparation of activated carbon for direct carbon fuel cell with oak sawdust



Direct carbon fuel cell (DCFC) is a device, which converts chemical energy of carbon into electrical energy through electrochemical oxidisation directly and its performance enormously depends on the characteristics of the fuel used. In this study, oak sawdust is used to prepare the activated carbon for the DCFC, with K2CO3 as the activating agent. Nickel catalyst is applied to improve the electrical conductivity, while HNO3 treatment is used for the purpose of surface modification and ash removal. The performance of the prepared activated carbon in DCFC is evaluated in a self-built DCFC anode apparatus. The results show that the BET surface area of activated carbon reaches 1240 m2/g under the following conditions: activation temperature, 1173 K; activation time, 2 h; and impregnation ratio, 1. Electrical conductivity is well improved through the nickel catalyst while the amount of surface oxygen functional groups is increased and ash content is decreased through the HNO3 treatment. When used as the fuel in the DCFC anode, the self-made activated carbon exhibits predominant performance among all tested carbon fuels, including graphite, activated carbon fibre, etc. © 2011 Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering