Nano Res. Energy | Hu Chuangang of Beijing Chemical Industry/Liming Dai of UNSW: Research progress of carbon-based electrochemical catalysts: from structural design to potential applications

December 1, 2022,Professor Hu Chuangang of Beijing University of Chemical Technology and Professor Dai Liming of the University of New South Wales, AustraliaA high-level academic journal hosted by Tsinghua UniversityNano Research EnergyPublished on the title“Recent progress in carbon-based electrochemical catalysts: from structure design to potential applications”A review of the progress and prospect of carbon-based metal-free electrocatalysts.

Figure 1. Timeline of important developments in C-MFECs since 2015.

In order to solve the problem of energy shortage and environmental pollution caused by the overuse of fossil fuels, fuel cells, water electrolysis devices and metal-air batteriesGreen energy conversion and storage installationsIt has been extensively studied. whereasCatalytic electrodesIt is the core component that determines the performance of these devices. Current commercial catalysts are mainly precious metal (such as Pt, Ir, Ru) materials. However, the expensive price and limited reserves of precious metals greatly limit the large-scale use of green energy devices. Researchers have tried to develop non-noble metal catalysts to replace precious metal catalysts, but non-noble metal catalysts lack stability under harsh reaction conditions, and even face problems such as low catalytic efficiency.

Carbon materialsIt has a variety of advantages, including high crustal abundance, good electrical conductivity, large specific surface area, and structural tunability at the molecular level, which is low-cost, high-performanceMetal-free carbon-based electrocatalysts (C-MFECs)Development offers possibilities. Since 2009, nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes were discovered to be used as heteroatom-doped C-MFECs to catalyze cathodic oxygen reduction reactions in fuel cells (Science 2009, 323, 760), metal-free carbon-based catalysts have made great progress. This article mainly reviews the recent research progress of C-MFECs for reactions involved in energy conversion and storage in recent years, mainly since 2015, including the most recentIntrinsic catalytic active site regulation(e.g., co-regulation of heteroatoms and defects in the carbon skeleton);Hierarchically ordered porous structure, highly orderlyThree-dimensional assembled structures, new structural carbon materials/compositesconstruction and synthesis; Recently developedCatalytic mechanism; andApplications related to clean energy storage and conversion(e.g., N2/NO3-reduction reaction, urea synthesis, metal-CO2 battery, Li-N2 battery, etc.). The field of carbon-based metal-free electrocatalysis was also analyzedCurrent challengesandOpportunities for the future, for its in the catalytic processPotential applicationsProvide some forward-looking insights.

Figure 2. (a) The first MOF-derived N-doped porous carbon for nitrogen reduction to synthesize ammonia. (b) B, N diatom-doped porous graphene for catalytic electrodes in “Li-CO2” cells. (c) Carbon nanotubes are used in all-solid, foldable “Li-CO2” batteries. (d, e)N-doped carbon tube/graphene composites were used in the first “K-CO2” battery. (f) The first “Li-N2” battery based on carbon cloth. (g) “Li-I2” cell based on N, P co-doped porous carbon material. (h) “Zn-empty” battery based on activated carbon black electrocatalyst, while green power generation, high value-added H2O2 is prepared. (i) Si, N co-doped C-MFEC is used as a CO2RR and OER bifunctional catalyst for the total decomposition of overall CO2. (j) N, P-co-doped carbon porous carbon in wearable glasses for the detection of dissolved oxygen to monitor eye health.

Note: The references involved are detailed in the original text.

Related paper information:

J. Yan, F. Ye, Q. Dai, et al. Recent progress in carbon-based electrochemical catalysts: From structure design to potential applications. Nano Research Energy. 2022,


Nano Research Energy is a companion journal of Nano Research, (ISSN: 2791-0091; e-ISSN: 2790-8119; Official Website: in March 2022, Professor Qu Liangti of Tsinghua University and Professor Chunyi Zhi of City University of Hong Kong serve as editors-in-chief.Nano Research EnergyIt is an international multidisciplinary and English-based open access journal, focusing on the cutting-edge research and application of nanomaterials and nanoscience and technology in new energy-related fields, benchmarking against top international energy journals, and committed to publishing high-level original research and review papers, which has been selected2022 China Science and Technology Journals Excellence Action Plan – High Starting Point New Journal Project。 APC fees will be waived until 2023, and teachers are welcome to submit their papers. To submit, please contact:

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