Sustainable porous carbon 3D structures for multiple applications

CSIC researchers have developed porous carbon 3D structures based on whey in a totally sustainable process. The pieces can be obtained in a broad variety of geometries and sizes for adjusting them to different sectors and functions, such as biomedical engineering, chemistry, environment and electrochemistry.

Porous carbon 3D structures. Image: INCAR-CSIC.Dairy industry produces every year high volumes of whey, a by-product. This is the first time that whey is used for producing active carbons with a high content of Nitrogen. The pieces can be manufactured through two processes: casting, in which a paste of whey and water is generated and used in a 3D printer through an extrusion process; or additive manufacturing, in which whey is transformed in dried powders and then the powders are stucked at high temperatures.

“The manufacturing processes are environment-friendly and the structures are carbonised to obtain a customized carbon piece, with a porous structure and a great mechanical resistance,” explains J. Ángel Menéndez, researcher at the Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología del Carbono (INCAR-CSIC) of Asturias.

The design can be adapted to any demand, thanks to the control of porosity and the surface properties of the structures. The material has a good dimensional stability up to 900º Celsius degrees and it is biocompatible. It has broad applications in biomedical engineering (scaffolds, bioreactors, supports for biocatalysts), chemical engineering (membranes for compound separation, membrane reactors), environment (filters for volatile compounds) or electrochemistry (3D electrodes for supercapacitors, 3D sensors and biosensors).


Dra. Patricia Thomas Vielma
Vicepresidencia Adjunta de Transferencia del Conocimiento
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)
Tel.: 91 568 18 25
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