Tailored mesoporous structures of lignin-derived nano-carbons for multiple applications

Lu Yu, Luna Liang, Ishan Bajaj, Kendhl Seabright, David J. Keffer, Ilia N. Ivanov, Hao Chen, Sheng Dai, Arthur J. Ragauskas, Christos T. Maravelias, David P. Harper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This work uses a one-step KOH activation for lignin precursors to produce ultra-high mesoporous activated carbons (ACs) with an unprecedented combination of the surface area of 3207 m2 g−1 and mesopore ratio of 76%. The ACs are applied for supercapacitors (SCs) and methylene blue (MB) adsorption. The capacitance of the SCs in the three-electrode system reaches 812.3 F g−1 and demonstrates a remarkable maximum MB adsorption capacity of 1250 mg g−1. By modifying the process conditions, the mesopore ratio of ACs could be controlled from 10% to 80%. Compared with one-step activation, a two-step method produced microporous carbons with a lower surface area of 1227 m2 g−1 and a high micropore ratio of 73%. The capacitance of SCs with two-step ACs reached 228.1 F g−1 and the maximum adsorption capacity of 476.19 mg g−1 for MB adsorption. The two-step method limited the surface area but had a higher oxygen surface functionality, benefiting its electrochemical performance. A techno-economic analysis reveals that the one-step KOH activation-based process develops ACs with a minimum selling price of $7648/ton. This work demonstrates tuning the processing-structure-property-performance relationship of lignin-based ACs to make an economically viable domestic carbon source.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118285
StatePublished - Sep 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science


  • Dye adsorption
  • Economic analysis
  • Lignin
  • Mesoporous activated carbons
  • Supercapacitors
  • Surface area


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