Templated N-doped carbon materials for energy storage and conversion: synthesis and characterization studies
Sustainable energy sources are necessary to decrease the environmental problems associated with fossil fuels. Modified mesoporous carbon materials have been studied with aims of improving the performance of energy conversion and storage devices. In particular, heteroatom-doped carbons have received great attention as both a catalyst and catalyst support, showing potential in improving the catalytic activity of Pt towards the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). In this study, N-doped mesoporous carbons were synthesized by carbonization of melamine-formaldehyde (MF) polymer gels, using SiO2 nanoparticles as a hard-template. Carbon supports (MF-NC) with up to 8 N-atom% and surface areas up to 440 m2/g were obtained depending on the SiO2 content and annealing conditions (850oC, 950°C, or 1500°C). Pt/MF-NC samples were prepared to evaluate the electrochemical performance, stability, and ORR activity for applications in energy storage and conversion devices. Incorporating Fe was also considered to replace Pt as the catalyst. Preliminary results are also discussed.