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Title: Synthesis of porous carbon electrodes for biological fuel cells
Author: Tao, F.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7659 9988
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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Biological fuel cells potentially offer efficient clean energy conversation from biomass to electricity. One of the critical issues is to develop effective electrode structures for high-capacity and stable loading of biocatalysts (e.g., bacteria and enzymes). Porous carbons are promising if the pore structures can be tailored to maximise the capacity, efficiency and durability, which form the key objectives of this project. In this project, firstly, a 2-part polyurethane foaming system and commercial carbon fibres were used to synthesise porous carbon-fibre foams with high surface area, high electrical conductivity and high mechanical strength. The carbon-fibre foams were impregnated by phenolic resin and then carbonised to improve their electrical conductivity and mechanical strength. Moreover, the foams' electron transfer capabilities were enhanced by surface modification using electrochemically reduced graphite oxide. To enrich mesopores for enzyme loading, the method of self-assembly of block copolymers was adopted to synthesise mesoporous carbons. Novolac-type phenolic resin was chosen as the carbon precursor and the block copolymers Pluronic P123 and Pluronic F127 were chosen as the structure-directing agents. The synthesised mesoporous carbons had a pore diameter range of 2 - 10 nm and 2 - 5 nm for P123 and F127 respectively. Mesoporous carbons derived from F127 were successfully incorporated into the carbon-fibre foams by solvent impregnation and carbonisation. The resulting hierarchical porous carbons presented meso-/macroporous structures with a much higher surface area (up to 209 m2 g−1) as compared to that of pure carbon-fibre foams (~ 12 m2 g−1). However, myoglobin adsorption tests revealed that these hierarchical porous carbons had low adsorption capacities (up to 0.028 µmol g−1 at room temperature) due to small mesopores (2 - 5 nm in diameter) present in the porous structures. The results are discussed with an aim for further development.
Supervisor: Guo, Z. X. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available