Carbon Anode Material from Biomass Pyrolysis Oil

Mark Nimlos, Rianna Martinez, Nolan Wilson, Sang-Don Han, William Sagues, Sunkyu Park, Trevor Vook, Shaikat Dey, Michael Regula, Zachary Combs, Cara Fagerholm, Barry Freel, Geoff Hopkins, Ton Vries, Tijmen Vries

Research output: NRELPresentation


Lithium-ion batteries (LIB) are an important component of electric vehicles and sodium-ion batteries (SIB) are an attractive alternative for grid electric storage. We are investigating a novel approach to synthesizing the carbon anode materials for these batteries from biomass pyrolysis oil as part of conversion processes to produce biofuels. Graphite is used as anode material in LIB and is exclusively produced from petroleum residue or mined mineral carbon. We have synthesized drop-in graphite by coking the heavy residual oil from the distillation of catalytic fast pyrolysis oil and by catalytic graphitizing raw pyrolysis oil. XRD and Raman spectroscopies were used to verify the production of high purity crystalline graphite. Figure 1 shows typical XRD spectra of the bio-graphite compared to commercial material as well as the charge/discharge cycle. Graphite particle sizes and morphologies were adjusted to improve performance using jet milling and carbon coating. The bio-graphite delivered a high capacity (335 mAh/g) when tested in a graphite half-cell. Full cell coin cell experiments were also conducted to verify the observations from half-cell testing. The high value of graphite (>$9/kg) can positively impact the economics of biofuels production and can be an important part of a future circular carbon economy. We have also investigated synthesizing hard carbon from pyrolysis oil for use as anode material in SIB. These batteries are not commercially mature but have great promise in grid storage and use earth abundant elements. We have demonstrated that pyrolysis oil can be used to synthesize hard carbon, which was subsequently be used in SIB experiments. This material achieved a sodium-ion capacity of 250 mAh/g and a first cycle efficiency of 78%, with opportunities to further optimize this performance from optimizing the composition of the pyrolysis oil to shaping the hard carbon particles. As with graphite, hard carbon is a high value (> $10/kg) material that could facilitate biofuels production.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages18
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePresented at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall Meeting, 21-25 August 2022, Chicago, Illinois

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-2800-83339


  • biomass pyrolysis oil
  • hard carbon
  • renewable batteries
  • sodium ion batteries


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