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Upcycling Waste Poly(ethylene terephthalate) into a Porous Carbon Cuboid through a MOF-Derived Carbonization Strategy for Interfacial Solar-Driven Water–Thermoelectricity Cogeneration

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posted on 24.11.2022, 13:34 authored by Bingyu Chen, Jiaxin Ren, Yuhang Song, Panpan He, Huiying Bai, Zifen Fan, Ran Niu, Jiang Gong
Converting plastics into functional carbonaceous materials for solar energy conversion and storage has emerged as a prospective solution to concurrently advanced waste plastics upcycling and solar energy exploitation. However, synthesizing efficient carbon-based photothermal materials with well-defined shapes from waste plastics remains challenging. Herein, we propose metal–organic framework-derived carbonization strategy to upcycle waste poly(ethylene terephthalate) into a porous carbon cuboid (PCC) for interfacial solar-driven water–thermoelectricity cogeneration. PCC with well-controlled shapes is readily prepared from carbonization of a Ca-metal–organic framework cuboid derived from recycled poly(ethylene terephthalate). The size and porous structure of the PCC are facilely regulated by changing the carbonization temperature (700–900 °C). Owing to abundant hierarchical micro-/meso-/macropores, unique cuboid morphology, and many oxygen-containing groups of the PCC, the PCC-based solar evaporator reveals high light absorptivity, reduced evaporation enthalpy, low heat conductivity, and superior photothermal conversion capability. Thanks to these advantages, it displays an ultra-high evaporation rate (2.49 kg m–2 h–1) under 1 sun illumination, surpassing many recent evaporators. Besides, an outdoor solar-driven desalination apparatus achieves the freshwater generation amount per unit area of 7.1 kg. Significantly, the evaporator combined with a thermoelectric module generates a voltage of 201 mV at the illumination intensity of 1 kW m–2, with a maximum power density of 0.8 W m–2. This work not merely offers new opportunities for sustainable electricity and freshwater supply from renewable solar energy but also contributes to upcycling waste plastics and achieving carbon neutrality.

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