The synthesis and application of biomass-derived carbon in energy storage have drawn increasing research attention due to the ease of fabrication, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability of the meso/microporous carbon produced from various biological precursors, including plants, fruits, microorganisms, and animals. Compared to the artificial nanostructured carbons, such as fullerene, carbon nanotube and graphene, the biomass-derived carbons may obtain superior capacitance, rate performance and stability in supercapacitor applications ascribing to their intrinsic nanoporous and hierarchical structures. However, challenges remain in processing techniques to obtain biomass-derived carbons with high carbon yield, high energy density, and controllable graphitic microstructures, which may require a clear understanding over the chemical and elemental compositions, and the intrinsic microstructural characteristics of the biological precursors. Herein we present comprehensive analyses over the impacts of the chemical and elemental compositions of the precursors on the carbon yield of the biomass, as well as the mechanism of chemical activation on the nanoporous structure development of the biomass-derived carbons. The structure–property relationship and functional performance of various biomass-derived carbons for supercapacitor applications are also discussed in detail and compared. Finally, useful insights are also provided for the improvements of biomass-derived carbons in supercapacitor applications.
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