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Title: Conversion of lignin precursors to carbon fibers with nanoscale graphitic domains

Lignin is one of the most abundant and inexpensive natural biopolymers. It can be efficiently converted to low cost carbon fiber, monolithic structures or powders that could be used directly in the production of anodes for lithium-ion batteries. In this work, we report processing parameters relevant for the conversion of lignin precursors into electrochemically active carbon fibers, the impact of lignin precursor modification on melt processing and the microstructure of the final carbon material. The conversion process encompasses melt spinning of the lignin precursor, oxidative stabilization and a low temperature carbonization step in a nitrogen/hydrogen atmosphere. To assess electrochemical performance, we determined resistivities of individual carbon fiber samples and characterized the microstructure by scanning electron microscopy and neutron diffraction. The chemical modification and subsequent thermomechanical processing methods reported here are effective for conversion into carbon fibers while preserving the macromolecular backbone structure of lignin. Modification of softwood lignin produced functionalities and rheological properties that more closely resemble hardwood lignin thereby enabling the melt processing of softwood lignin in oxidative atmospheres (air). Structural characterization of the carbonized fibers reveals nanoscale graphitic domains that are linked to enhanced electrochemical performance.
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [1]
  1. ORNL
  2. National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (Magnet Lab), Florida
  3. University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering; Journal Volume: 2; Journal Issue: 8
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL); Spallation Neutron Source
Sponsoring Org:
ORNL LDRD Director's R&D
Country of Publication:
United States
LIGNIN; CARBON FIBERS; MATERIALS; NEUTRON DIFFRACTION lignin; carbon fiber; material; neutron diffraction; FT-ICR MS