Micrometer sized carbon spheres (CSs) are prepared in a single step using lactose precursor via hydrothermal method. These CSs are chemically modified with 3-chloro-2-hydroxypropyl ammonium chloride (CHPAC1) and triethylenetetramine (TETA) to generate amine groups on the particle surface. Modified CSs with TETA was protonated with HCl as CSs-TETA-HCl that the zeta potential is increased to +40.3 +/- 0.70 from -51.4 +/- 4.66 mV. The catalytic performance of CSs are tested as catalysts in the methanolysis of NaBH4, and the best catalytic performance as 2586 mL min(-1) g(-1) hydrogen generation rate (HGR) was obtained by CSs-TETA-HCl catalyst at 298 K as metal free catalyst. Furthermore, various parameters such as the amount of NaBH4 the reaction temperature, and the reusability of CSs-TETA-HCL particles are investigated. More importantly, relatively low activation energy, 23.82 kj mol(-1) for CSs-TETA-HCL catalyzed NaBH4 methanolysis reaction is obtained in comparison to metal nanoparticle and metal free catalysts reported for the same purpose in the literature. (c) 2018 Hydrogen Energy Publications LLC. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.