Humic acid (HA) is a biopolymer formed from degraded plants, making it a ubiquitous, renewable, sustainable, and low cost source of biocarbon materials. HA contains abundant functional groups, such as carboxyl-, phenolic/alcoholic hydroxyl-, ketone-, and quinone/hydroquinone (Q/QH2
)-groups. The presence of Q/QH2
groups makes HA redox active and, accordingly, HA is a candidate material for energy storage. However, as HA is an electronic insulator, it is essential to combine it with conductive materials in order to enable fabrication of HA electrodes. One of the lowest cost types of conductive materials that can be considered is carbon-based conductors such as graphite. Herein, we develop a facile method allowing the biocarbon to meet carbon; HA (in the form of a sodium salt) is mixed with graphite by a solvent-free mechanochemical method involving ball milling. Few-layer graphene sheets are formed and the HA/graphite mixtures can be used to fabricate HA/graphite hybrid material electrodes. These electrodes exhibit a conductivity of up to 160 S·m−1
and a discharge capacity as large as 20 mAhg−1
. Our study demonstrates a novel methodology enabling scalable fabrication of low cost and sustainable organic electrodes for application as supercapacitors.
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