A massive amount of animal biomass is generated daily from livestock farms, agriculture, and food industries, causing environmental and ecological problems. The conversion of animal biomass into value-added products has recently gained considerable interest in materials science research. Herein, horse manure (HM) was utilized as a precursor for synthesizing nitrogen-doped carbons (NCs) via hydrothermal ammonia treatment and the post pyrolysis process. The ammonia concentration varied between 0.5, 1.0, and 1.5 M in the hydrothermal process. From the comprehensive characterization results, horse manure-derived nitrogen-doped carbons (HMNCs) exhibited an amorphous phase and a hierarchical nanoporous structure. The specific surface area decreased from 170.1 to 66.6 m2 g−1 as the ammonia concentration increased due to micropore deterioration. The nitrogen content was 0.90 atom% even with no ammonia treatment, indicating self-nitrogen doping. With hydrothermal ammonia treatment, the nitrogen content slightly enhanced up to 1.54 atom%. The electrocatalytic activity for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) of HMNCs in an alkaline solution was found to be related to nitrogen doping content and porous structure. The ORR activity of HMNCs mainly proceeded via a combination of two- and four-electron pathways. Although the ORR activity of HMNCs was still not satisfactory and comparable to that of a commercial Pt/carbon catalyst, it showed better long-term durability. The results obtained in this work provide the potential utilization of HM as a precursor for ORR catalysts and other related applications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)