The development of highly stable and efficient electrocatalysts for sluggish oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) is exceedingly significant for the commercialization of fuel cells but remains a challenge. We here synthesize a new nitrogen-doped biocarbon composite material ([email protected]
) as a nitrogen-containing carbon-based electrocatalyst for the ORR via facile all-solid-state multi-step pyrolysis of bioprotein-enriched enoki mushroom as a starting material, and inexpensive carbon nanoparticles as the inserting matrix and conducting agent at controlled temperatures. Results show that the [email protected]
catalyst exhibits the best ORR electrocatalytic activity with an onset potential of 0.94 V (versus
reversible hydrogen electrode, RHE) and high stability. Meanwhile, this catalyst significantly exhibits good selectivity of the four-electron reaction pathway in an alkaline electrolyte. It is notable that pyridinic- and graphtic-nitrogen groups that play a key role in the enhancement of the ORR activity may be the catalytically active structures for the ORR. We further propose that the pyridinic-nitrogen species can mainly stabilize the ORR activity and the graphitic-nitrogen species can largely enhance the ORR activity. Besides, the addition of carbon support also plays an important role in the pyrolysis process, promoting the ORR electrocatalytic activity.
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