The team from the Boron Nitride Research Center at Hebei University of Technology (HEBUT) used a facile approach for the synthesis of high-quality micro-porous/mesoporous BN whiskers. Readily available and inexpensive raw materials, namely – boric acid H3BO3 and melamine C3N6H6, were used as starting reactants.

The formation of the porous structure was attributed to the group elimination of organic species of a BN precursor – melamine diborate molecular crystal. This elimination path maintained the pore structure order and numerous structural defects.

To their surprise, the researchers found that the synthesized BN whiskers exhibited an exceptionally high surface area of 1687 m2/g and a large pore volume of 0.99 cm3/g. The high surface area, pore volume and structural defects make the BN whiskers highly suitable for hydrogen storage and waste-water treatment applications.

An excellent hydrogen uptake capacity with high weight adsorption up to 5.6% at room temperature and at relative low pressure of 3 MPa has been observed in the synthesized BN whiskers. Furthermore, the BN whiskers also exhibit excellent adsorption of methyl orange and copper ions with maximum removal capacities of 298.3 and 373 mg g–1 at 298 K, respectively.

Full details can be found in the journal Nanotechnology.