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Tailoring of Nanoscale Porosity in Carbide-Derived Carbons for Hydrogen Storage

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journal contribution
posted on 23.11.2005, 00:00 by Yury Gogotsi, Ranjan K. Dash, Gleb Yushin, Taner Yildirim, Giovanna Laudisio, John E. Fischer
The poor performance of hydrogen storage materials continues to hinder development of fuel cell-powered automobiles. Nanoscale carbons, in particular (activated carbon, exfoliated graphite, fullerenes, nanotubes, nanofibers, and nanohorns), have not fulfilled their initial promise. Here we show that carbon materials can be rationally designed for H2 storage. Carbide-derived carbons (CDC), a largely unknown class of porous carbons, are produced by high-temperature chlorination of carbides. Metals and metalloids are removed as chlorides, leaving behind a collapsed noncrystalline carbon with up to 80% open pore volume. The detailed nature of the porosityaverage size and size distribution, shape, and total specific surface area (SSA)can be tuned with high sensitivity by selection of precursor carbide (composition, lattice type) and chlorination temperature. The optimum temperature is bounded from below by thermodynamics and kinetics of chlorination reactions and from above by graphitization, which decreases SSA and introduces H2-sorbing surfaces with binding energies too low to be useful. Intuitively, pores of different size and shape should not contribute equally to hydrogen storage. By correlating pore properties with 77 K H2 isotherms from a wide variety of CDCs, we experimentally confirm that gravimetric hydrogen storage capacity normalized to total pore volume is optimized in materials with primarily micropores (∼1 nm) rather than mesopores. Thus, in agreement with theoretical predictions, a narrow size distribution of small pores is desirable for storing hydrogen, while large pores merely degrade the volumetric storage capacity.