Linking lignin source with structural and electrochemical properties of lignin-derived carbon materials

Wenqi Li, Yan Zhang, Lalitendu Das, Yikai Wang, Mi Li, Namal Wanninayake, Yunqiao Pu, Doo Young Kim, Yang Tse Cheng, Arthur J. Ragauskas, Jian Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Valorization of lignin to high-value chemicals and products along with biofuel production is generally acknowledged as a technology platform that could significantly improve the economic viability of biorefinery operations. With a growing demand for electrical energy storage materials, lignin-derived activated carbon (AC) materials have received increasing attention in recent years. However, there is an apparent gap in our understanding of the impact of the lignin precursors (i.e., lignin structure, composition and inter-unit linkages) on the structural and electrochemical properties of the derived ACs. In the present study, lignin-derived ACs were prepared under identical conditions from two different lignin sources: alkaline pretreated poplar and pine. The lignin precursors were characterized using composition analysis, size exclusion chromatography, and 2D HSQC nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Distinctive distributions of numerous micro-, meso- and macro-porous channels were observed in the two lignin-derived ACs. Poplar lignin-derived ACs exhibited a larger BET surface area and total mesopore volume than pine lignin-derived AC, which contributed to a larger electrochemical capacitance over a range of scan rates. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopic analysis (XPS) results revealed the presence of oxygen-containing functional groups in all lignin-derived ACs, which participated in redox reactions and thus contributed to an additional pseudo-capacitance. A possible process mechanism was proposed to explain the effects of lignin structure and composition on lignin-derived AC pore structure during thermochemical conversion. This study provides insight into how the lignin composition and structure affect the derived ACs for energy storage applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38721-38732
Number of pages12
JournalRSC Advances
Issue number68
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering


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