Highly stable, cost-effective electrocatalysts facilitating oxygen reduction are crucial for the commercialization of membrane-based fuel cell and battery technologies. Herein, we demonstrate that protein-rich soya chunks with a high content of N, S and P atoms are an excellent precursor for heteroatom-doped highly graphitized carbon materials. The materials are nanoporous, with a surface area exceeding 1000 m2 g-1, and they are tunable in doping quantities. These materials exhibit highly efficient catalytic performance toward oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) with an onset potential of -0.045 V and a half-wave potential of -0.211 V (versus a saturated calomel electrode) in a basic medium, which is comparable to commercial Pt catalysts and is better than other recently developed metal-free carbon-based catalysts. These exhibit complete methanol tolerance and a performance degradation of merely ∼5% as compared to ∼14% for a commercial Pt/C catalyst after continuous use for 3000 s at the highest reduction current. We found that the fraction of graphitic N increases at a higher graphitization temperature, leading to the near complete reduction of oxygen. It is believed that due to the easy availability of the precursor and the possibility of genetic engineering to homogeneously control the heteroatom distribution, the synthetic strategy is easily scalable, with further improvement in performance.
Rana, M., Arora, G., & Gautam, U. K. (2015). N- and S-doped high surface area carbon derived from soya chunks as scalable and efficient electrocatalysts for oxygen reduction. Science and Technology of Advanced Materials, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1088/1468-6996/16/1/014803