Algae-derived N-doped porous carbons with ultrahigh specific surface area for highly selective separation of light hydrocarbons

Peixin Zhang, Xin Wen, Liang Wang, Yao Zhong, Yun Su, Yan Zhang, Jun Wang, Jiangfeng Yang, Zheling Zeng, Shuguang Deng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Light hydrocarbons are important alternative energy sources and raw materials, thus developing efficient adsorbents is of great importance for separating each C1/C2/C3 component in a pressure swing adsorption (PSA) process. Herein, we selected low-cost and ultrafast-growing algae as the precursor and applied the facile one-pot method to prepare N-doped porous carbons. The obtained algae-derived N-doped porous carbons (ANPCs) showed ultrahigh specific surfaces areas of 1437–3177 m2 g−1, large pore volumes of 0.637–2.18 cm3 g−1, and rich N-heteroatom content of 1.74–10.37 wt%. Moreover, the ANPC samples exhibited outstanding C3H8 (11.5 mmol g−1), C3H6 (11.3 mmol g−1), C2H6 (6.84 mmol g−1), and C2H4 (5.71 mmol g−1) adsorption capacities with excellent IAST separation selectivities of C3/C1 (189), C2/C1 (15.3), and C3/C2 (9.81) at 298 K and 1.0 bar. Impressively, ANPC-1-800 showed the C2H6-selective adsorption feature that is much more favorable in C2H4/C2H6 separation. Furthermore, the detailed evaluation of VSA working parameters, dynamic breakthrough experiment, and adsorption cycle experiment confirmed that the ANPCs are potent and promising adsorbents for practical light hydrocarbon separation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number122731
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • Adsorption
  • Light hydrocarbon
  • N-doped porous carbon
  • Separation
  • Ultrahigh surface area

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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