Rational design of nanocomposite electrode materials with high conductivity, activity, and mechanical strength is critical in electrocatalysis. Herein, freestanding, flexible heteronanocomposites were fabricated in situ by carbonizing electrospun fibers with TiO2 nanoparticles on the surface for electrocatalytic degradation of water pollutants. The carbonization temperature was observed as a dominant parameter affecting the characteristics of the electrodes. As the carbonization temperature increased to 1000 °C, the conductivity of the electrode was significantly enhanced due to the high degree of graphitization (ID/IG ratio 1.10) and the dominant rutile phase. Additionally, the formation of TiO2 protrusions and the C-Ti heterostructure were observed at 1000 °C, which contributed to increasing the electrocatalytic activity. When 1.5 V (vs. Ag/AgCl) was employed, electrocatalytic experiments using the electrode achieved 90% degradation of crystal violet and 10.9–87.5% for an array of micropollutants. The electrical energy-per-order (EEO) for the removal of crystal violet was 0.7 kWh/m3/order, indicative of low-energy requirement. The efficient electrocatalytic activity can be ascribed to the fast electron transfer and the strong ability to generate hydroxyl radicals. Our findings expand efforts for the design of highly conductive heteronanocomposites in a facile in situ approach, providing a promising perspective for the energy-efficient electrocatalytic degradation of water pollutants.
- Carbonized electrospun fibers