Synthesis of micro/meso porous carbon for ultrahigh hydrogen adsorption using cross-linked polyaspartic acid

  • 5 Accesses


In addition to the specific surface area, surface topography and characteristics such as the pore size, pore size distribution, and micro/mesopores ratio are factors that determine the performance of porous carbons (PCs) in the fields of energy, catalysis, and adsorption. Based on the mechanism of weight loss of polyaspartic acid at high temperatures, this study provided a new method for adjusting the surface morphology of PCs by changing the cross-linking ratio of the precursor, where cross-linked polyaspartic acid was used as precursor without additional activating agents. N2 adsorption analysis indicated that the specific surface area of the obtained PCs was as high as 1458 m2 · g−1, of which 1200 m2 · g−1 was the contribution of the microporous area and the highest pore volume was 1.13 cm3 · g−1, of which the micropore volume was 0.636 cm3 · g−1. The thermogravimetric analysis results of the precursor, and also the scanning electron microscopy and Brunauer—Emmet—Teller analysis results of the carbonization product confirmed that the prepared PCs presented multilevel pore structure, and the diameters of most pores were 0.78 and 3.97 nm; moreover, the pore size distribution was relatively uniform. This conferred the PCs the ultrahigh hydrogen adsorption capacity of up to 4.52 wt-% at 77 K and 1.13 bar, in addition to their great energy storage and catalytic potential.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA


  1. 1.

    Shao L, Wang S, Liu M, Huang J, Liu Y. Triazine-based hyper-cross-linked polymers derived porous carbons for CO2 capture. Chemical Engineering Journal, 2018, 339: 509–518

  2. 2.

    Zhang C, Kong R, Wang X, Xu Y, Wang F, Ren W, Wang Y, Su F, Jiang J. Porous carbons derived from hypercross-linked porous polymers for gas adsorption and energy storage. Carbon, 2017, 114: 608–618

  3. 3.

    Blankenship T S, Balahmar N, Mokaya R. Oxygen-rich micro-porous carbons with exceptional hydrogen storage capacity. Nature Communications, 2017, 8: 1545

  4. 4.

    Sevilla M, Mokaya R, Fuertes A B. Ultrahigh surface area polypyrrole based carbons with superior performance for hydrogen storage. Energy & Environmental Science, 2011, 4: 2930–2936

  5. 5.

    Xia Y, Walker G S, Grant D M, Mokaya R. Hydrogen storage in high surface area carbons: Experimental demonstration of the effects of nitrogen doping. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2009, 131: 16493–16499

  6. 6.

    Zhao X B, Xiao B, Fletcher A J, Thomas K M. Hydrogen adsorption on functionalized nanoporous activated carbons. Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 2005, 109: 8880–8888

  7. 7.

    Yang Z, Xia Y, Sun X, Mokaya R. Preparation and hydrogen storage properties of zeolite-templated carbon materials nanocast via chemical vapor deposition: Effect of the xeolite template and nitrogen doping. Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 2006, 110: 18424–18431

  8. 8.

    Nanaji K, Mohan H E, Sarada V B, Varadaraju U V, Rao N T, Anandan S. One step synthesized hierarchical spherical porous carbon as an efficient electrode material for lithium ion battery. Materials Letters, 2019, 237: 156–160

  9. 9.

    Wei J, Ding C, Zhang P, Ding H, Niu X, Ma Y, Li C, Wang Y, Xiong H. Robust negative electrode materials derived from carbon dots and porous hydrogels for high-performance hybrid super-capacitors. Advanced Materials, 2019, 31(5): e1806197

  10. 10.

    Yang X, Li K, Cheng D, Pang W, Lv J, Chen X, Zang H, Wu X, Tan H, Wang Y, et al. Nitrogen-doped porous carbon: Highly efficient trifunctional electrocatalyst for oxygen reversible catalysis and nitrogen reduction reaction. Journal of Materials Chemistry. A, Materials for Energy and Sustainability, 2018, 6(17): 7762–7769

  11. 11.

    Cao Y, Mao S. Li Mg, Chen Y, Wang Y. Metal/porous carbon composites for heterogeneous catalysis: Old catalysts with improved performance promoted by N-doping. ACS Catalysis, 2017, 7(12): 8090–8112

  12. 12.

    Yang Z, Liu Z, Zhang H, Yu B, Zhao Y, Wang H, Ji G, Chen Y, Liu X, Liu Z. N-Doped porous carbon nanotubes: Synthesis and application in catalysis. Chemical Communications, 2016, 53(5): 929–932

  13. 13.

    Yang S J, Kim T, Im J H, Kim Y S, Lee K, Jung H. Park C R. MOF-derived hierarchically porous carbon with exceptional porosity and hydrogen storage capacity. Chemistry of Materials, 2012, 24(3): 464–470

  14. 14.

    Zhang L, You T, Zhou T, Zhou X, Xu F. Interconnected hierarchical porous carbon from lignin-derived byproducts of bioethanol production for ultra-high performance supercapacitors. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2016, 8: 13918–13925

  15. 15.

    Xu M, Li D, Yan Y, Guo T, Pang H, Xue H. Porous high specific surface area-activated carbon with co-doping N, S and P for high-performance supercapacitors. RSC Advances, 2017, 7: 43780–43788

  16. 16.

    Cui J, Xi Y, Chen S, Li D, She X, Sun J, Han W, Yang D, Guo S. Prolifera-green-tide as sustainable source for carbonaceous aerogels with hierarchical pore to achieve multiple energy storage. Advanced Functional Materials, 2016, 26(46): 8487–8495

  17. 17.

    Xiao P, Meng Q, Zhao L, Li J, Wei Z, Han B. Biomass-derived flexible porous carbon materials and their applications in super-capacitor and gas adsorption. Materials & Design, 2017, 129: 164–172

  18. 18.

    Cao J, Zhu C, Aoki Y, Habazaki H. Starch-derived hierarchical porous carbon with controlled porosity for high performance supercapacitors. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 2018, 6(6): 7292–7303

  19. 19.

    Zhong Y, Shi T, Huang Y, Cheng S, Liao G, Tang Z. One-step synthesis of porous carbon derived from starch for all-carbon binder-free high-rate supercapacitor. Electrochimica Acta, 2018, 269: 676–685

  20. 20.

    Ghimbeu M C, Luchnikov A V. Hierarchical porous nitrogen-doped carbon beads derived from biosourced chitosan polymer. Microporous and Mesoporous Materials, 2018, 263: 42–52

  21. 21.

    Song P, Shen X, He W, Kong L, He X, Ji Z, Yuan A, Zhu G, Li N. Protein-derived nitrogen-doped hierarchically porous carbon as electrode material for supercapacitors. Journal of Materials Science Materials in Electronics, 2018, 29(14): 12206–12215

  22. 22.

    Alatalo S M, Qiu K, Preuss K, Marinovic A, Sevilla M, Sillanpää M, Guo X, Titirici M. Soy protein directed hydrothermal synthesis of porous carbon aerogels for electrocatalytic oxygen reduction. Carbon, 2016, 96: 622–630

  23. 23.

    Demir M, Ashourirad B, Mugumya H J, Saraswat K S, El-Kaderi M H, Gupt B R. Nitrogen and oxygen dual-doped porous carbons prepared from pea protein as electrode materials for high performance supercapacitors. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 2018, 43(40): 18549–18558

  24. 24.

    Zhang J, Cai Y, Zhong Q, Lai D, Yao J. Porous Nitrogen-doped carbon derived from silk fibroin protein encapsulating sulfur as a superior cathode material for high-performance lithium-sulfur batteries. Nanoscale, 2015, 7(42): 17791–17797

  25. 25.

    Zhao Y, Su H, Fang L, Tan T. Superabsorbent hydrogels from poly (aspartic acid) with salt-, temperature- and pH-responsiveness properties. Polymer, 2005, 46: 5368–5376

  26. 26.

    Cao H, Ma X, Sun S, Su H, Tan T. A new photocrosslinkable hydrogel based on a derivative of polyaspartic acid for the controlled release of ketoprofen. Polymer Bulletin, 2010, 64: 623–632

  27. 27.

    Cheng H, Li Y, Zeng X, Sun Y X, Zhang X Z, Zhuo R X. Protamine sulfate/poly(1-aspartic acid) polyionic complexes self-assembled via electrostatic attractions for combined delivery of drug and gene. Biomaterials, 2009, 30: 1246–1253

  28. 28.

    Meng H, Zhang X, Chen Q, Wei J, Wang Y, Dong A, Yang H, Tan T, Cao H. Preparation of poly (aspartic acid) superabsorbent hydrogels by solvent-free processes. Journal of Polymer Engineering, 2015, 35(7): 647–655

  29. 29.

    Lim S L, Tang W N H, Ooi C W, Chan E, Tey B T. Rapid swelling and deswelling of semi-interpenetrating networkpoly (acrylic acid)/poly(aspartic acid) hydrogels prepared by freezing polymerization. Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 2016, 133(24): e43515

  30. 30.

    Edwin M, Sadanand P, James R. Microwave assisted synthesis of xanthan gum-cl-poly (acrylic acid) based-reduced graphene oxide hydrogel composite for adsorption of methylene blue and methyl violet from aqueous solution. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 2018, 119: 255–269

  31. 31.

    Wang J, Senkovska I, Kaskel S, Liu Q. Chemically activated fungi-based porous carbons for hydrogen storage. Carbon, 2014, 75: 372–380

  32. 32.

    Tian J, Zhang H, Liu Z, Qin G, Li Z. One-step synthesis of 3D sulfur-doped porous carbon with multilevel pore structure for high-rate supercapacitors. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 2018, 43(3): 1596–1605

  33. 33.

    Srinivas G, Burress J, Yildirim T. Graphene oxide derived carbons (GODCs): Synthesis and gas adsorption properties. Energy & Environmental Science, 2012, 5: 6453–6459

  34. 34.

    Wang H, Sun X, Liu Z, Lei Z. Creation of nanopores on graphene planes with MgO template for preparing high-performance super-capacitor electrodes. Nanoscale, 2014, 6: 6577–6584

  35. 35.

    Yang X, Yu M, Zhao Y, Zhang C, Wang X, Jiang J X. Remarkable gas adsorption by carbonized nitrogen-rich hypercross-linked porous organic polymers. Journal of Materials Chemistry. A, Materials for Energy and Sustainability, 2014, 2: 15139–15145

  36. 36.

    Sing K S W, Everett D H, Haul R A W, Moscou L, Pierotti R A, Rouquerol J, Siemieniewska T. Reporting physisorption data for gas/solid systems with special reference to the determination of surface area and porosity. Pure and Applied Chemistry, 1985, 57: 603–619

  37. 37.

    Sevilla M, Mokaya R. Energy storage applications of activated carbons: Supercapacitors and hydrogen storage. Energy & Environmental Science, 2014, 7: 1250–1280

  38. 38.

    Kobielska P A, Telford R, Rowlandson J, Tian M, Shahin Z, Demessence A, Ting V P, Nayak S. Polynuclear complexes as precursor templates for hierarchical microporous graphitic carbon: An unusual approach. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2018, 10: 25967–25971

  39. 39.

    Sethia G, Sayari A. Activated carbon with optimum pore size distribution for hydrogen storage. Carbon, 2016, 99: 289–294

  40. 40.

    Kim H S, Kang M S, Yoo W C. Highly enhanced gas sorption capacities of N-doped porous carbon spheres by hot NH3 and CO2 treatments. Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 2015, 119(51): 28512–28522

  41. 41.

    Zhang C, Geng Z, Cai M, Zhang J, Liu X, Xin H, Ma J. Microstructure regulation of super activated carbon from biomass source corncob with enhanced hydrogen uptake. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 2013, 38(22): 9243–9250

  42. 42.

    Wrobel-Iwaniec I, Diez N, Gryglewicz G. Chitosan-based highly activated carbons for hydrogen storage. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 2015, 40: 5788–5796

  43. 43.

    Liu X, Zhang C, Geng Z, Cai M. High-pressure hydrogen storage and optimizing fabrication of corncob-derived activated carbon. Microporous and Mesoporous Materials, 2014, 194: 60–65

Download references


This work was supported by the Beijing Natural Science Foundation (No. 2162031) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 21390202, 21436002 and 21865026).

Author information

Correspondence to Di Cai or Hui Cao.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wei, J., Zhao, J., Cai, D. et al. Synthesis of micro/meso porous carbon for ultrahigh hydrogen adsorption using cross-linked polyaspartic acid. Front. Chem. Sci. Eng. (2020).

Download citation


  • porous carbon
  • multilevel pores
  • polyaspartic acid
  • cross-linking
  • hydrogen adsorption