Self-nitrogen-doped carbon materials derived from the petioles and blades of apricot leaves as metal-free catalysts for selective oxidation of aromatic alkanes


Carbon materials with tailorable structures and superior properties have great potential applications in environmental protection, energy conversion, and catalysis. Plant biomass as abundant and green non-toxic raw materials has been considered as good precursors for synthesizing heteroatom-doped carbon materials. However, few studies have been reported on the different natures of carbon materials derived from different parts of the same plant biomass. In this study, we prepared carbon materials from the petioles and blades of apricot leaves by direct pyrolysis without additives. Detailed characterizations indicate that these two carbon materials are similar in element composition and graphitization degree, but differ greatly in surface area and pore volume. These differences can be attributed to the different contents of inorganic salts, vascular bundles, and proteins in petioles and blades. When used as catalysts for the oxidation of ethylbenzene, the petiole-derived carbon shows better catalytic performance than the blades derived carbon due to its high surface area, large average pore size, and doped nitrogen atoms. Furthermore, the carbon catalysts derived from the petioles and blades of poplar leaves and parasol tree leaves show the same difference in catalytic reaction, implying that the above-mentioned conclusion is rather universal, which can provide reference for the synthesis of carbon materials from leaves.

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We thank the Natural Science Foundation of Shandong Province (ZR2018LB009, ZR2018LB020), National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC 21801180), and the Science Foundation of Shandong Province for Excellent Young Scholars (ZR2017JL015) for financial support. The instrumental analysis was performed at the Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences (ICCAS), and Shiyanjia Lab ( We also thank Jian Liu and Conghua Qi for support.

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Correspondence to Yongbin Sun or Kun Liu.

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Sun, Y., Hao, J., Zhu, X. et al. Self-nitrogen-doped carbon materials derived from the petioles and blades of apricot leaves as metal-free catalysts for selective oxidation of aromatic alkanes. Carbon Lett. 30, 133–141 (2020).

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  • Carbon
  • Heterogeneous catalysis
  • Petioles and blades
  • Metal-free
  • Selective oxidation