Cathode candidates for zinc-based thermal-electrochemical energy storage

Nicolas E. Holubowitch, Stephen E. Manek, James Landon, Cameron A. Lippert, Susan A. Odom, Kunlei Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Summary An electrochemical cell utilizing a molten salt eutectic electrolyte (ZnCl2-KCl) is investigated as a new low-cost energy storage technology. Using Zn as the anode, a broad range of candidate cathode materials (Al, Ag, Bi, C, Cu, a Ni alloy, Sn, and Pb) are characterized by open-circuit potential, chronoamperometry, and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy methods. Cells employing the molten metal cathodes Sn, Bi, and Pb deliver markedly high current densities independent of their standard reduction potentials. Molten Pb (at 330°C), for example, gave 25 times higher current density than solid Pb (at 315°C). Additionally, ZnCl2-KCl is employed for the first time in an energy storage application and it affords an operating temperature >100°C lower than other liquid metal battery technologies. Thermal properties of this relatively air-stable molten salt electrolyte allow for a second mode of energy storage, that is, thermal. The combination of an inexpensive Zn anode, low-temperature eutectic electrolyte, and a molten metal cathode offers a simple and promising electrochemical system for dual-mode (thermal-electrochemical) large-scale energy storage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-399
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Energy Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 10 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • electrochemistry
  • energy storage
  • functional alloys
  • intermediate temperature battery
  • liquid metals
  • molten salts
  • thermodynamic properties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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