Nonaqueous redox flow batteries use liquid electrolytes containing redox-active organic molecules (redoxmers) as their energy storage medium. To maximize energy density, the redoxmer concentration needs to be maximized while maintaining low viscosity and high ionic conductivity. During charge, a redoxmer molecule pairs with an ion in the electrolyte while another ion migrates across the membrane to maintain electric neutrality. In a crowded electrolyte, this reconstitution changes physical and chemical properties of the solution. To explore these behaviors, a phenothiazine redoxmer fully miscible with acetonitrile was used, and electrochemical charge was mimicked by chemical oxidation. The solutions were examined using small-angle X-ray scattering, nuclear magnetic resonance, and conductometry and modeled using classical molecular dynamics. Our study indicates that physical and structural properties of redoxmer solutions in both states of charge make it exceedingly difficult to increase the redoxmer concentrations over 2 M at any temperature without compromising dynamic properties of such solutions. The cause for this limitation is proximity to a gel-like regime in which fluidity, diffusivity, and ionic conductivity exponentially decrease with increasing concentration. This tendency is compounded by non-Arrhenius behavior of the electrolyte: a small increase in the concentration outruns gains in fluidity and conductivity at a higher temperature. Thus the properties of crowded electrolytes generally make it impossible to operate when gel-like behavior sets in. Pushing the redoxmer concentration to 2.5–3 M might be possible for small redoxmer molecules, but it would require the use of ionic liquid electrolytes at 340–360 K.
|Journal||Journal of Molecular Liquids|
|State||Published - Jul 15 2021|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported as part of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), an Energy Innovation Hub funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences. The submitted manuscript has been created by UChicago Argonne, LLC, Operator of Argonne National Laboratory (“Argonne”). Argonne, a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory, is operated under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357. The U.S. Government retains for itself, and others acting on its behalf, a paid-up nonexclusive, irrevocable worldwide license in said article to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies to the public, and perform publicly and display publicly, by or on behalf of the Government. This research used resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357.
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.
- Ionic conductivity
- Molecular dynamics
- Redox-active molecules
- Small-angle X-ray scattering
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Materials Chemistry