Assessment of the role of micropore size and N-doping in CO2 capture by porous carbons

Marta Sevilla, Jose B Parra, Antonio B Fuertes
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2013 July 10, 5 (13): 6360-8
The role of micropore size and N-doping in CO2 capture by microporous carbons has been investigated by analyzing the CO2 adsorption properties of two types of activated carbons with analogous textural properties: (a) N-free carbon microspheres and (b) N-doped carbon microspheres. Both materials exhibit a porosity made up exclusively of micropores ranging in size between <0.6 nm in the case of the pristine materials and up to 1.6 nm for the highly activated carbons (47% burnoff). The N-doped carbons possess ~3 wt % of N heteroatoms that are incorporated into several types of functional groups (i.e., pyrrole/pyridone, pyridine, quaternary, and pyridine-N-oxide). Under conventional operation conditions (i.e., T ~ 0-25 °C and P(CO2) ~ 0-1 bar), CO2 adsorption proceeds via a volume-filling mechanism, the size limit for volume-filling being ~0.7-0.8 nm. Under these circumstances, the adsorption of CO2 by nonfunctionalized porous carbons is mainly determined by the volume of the micropores with a size below 0.8 nm. It was also observed that the CO2 capture capacities of undoped and N-doped carbons are analogous which shows that the nitrogen functionalities present in these N-doped samples do not influence CO2 adsorption. Taking into account the temperature invariance of the characteristic curve postulated by the Dubinin theory, we show that CO2 uptakes can be accurately predicted by using the adsorption data measured at just one temperature.

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