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Understanding Electrolyte Chemistry for Rechargeable Aluminum Batteries

  • Author(s): Wen, Xiaoyu
  • Advisor(s): Guo, Juchen JG
  • et al.
Abstract

Lacking viable electrolytes is one of the fundamental obstacles preventing the realization of rechargeable aluminum batteries. The major challenge is to find electrolytes which can enable reversible Al deposition-stripping with excellent chemical and electrochemical stability. we investigated the interaction between vanadium(V) oxide (V2O5), which has been used as the cathode materials in a number of studies of rechargeable Al batteries, and the most common Al electrolyte based on an ionic liquid mixture of aluminum chloride (AlCl3) and 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium ([EMIm]Cl). We found that V2O5 reacted to AlCl3-[EMIm]Cl by identifying reaction products with electrochemical analysis, Raman and NMR spectroscopies. We also investigated the solvation properties in the solution of AlCl3 in -butyrolactone (GBL) and the resulted electrochemical properties. In the proposed work, we will further investigate the coordination structure between Al species and organic solvent to acquire the electrochemical active species. Furthermore, we report the first synthesis and characterizations of an Al “simple salt” electrolyte composed of aluminum hexafluorophosphate (Al(PF6)3) in dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). Al(PF6)3 salt was synthesized via the reaction between triethylaluminium (Et3Al) and ammonium hexafluorophosphate, and purified via recrystallization. The single crystal X-ray diffraction reveals that the Al3+ cation is solvated with six DMSO molecules (Al(DMSO)6(PF6)3) in the salt crystal structure. The 0.25 M Al(PF6)3 solution in DMSO demonstrates high ionic conductivity at approximately 1.210-2 S cm-1. With characterizations including nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), we demonstrate the reversibility of Al deposition-stripping in the electrolyte, which can be improved by the addition of trace amount of Et3Al as the electrolyte additive. The side reaction involving the reductive decomposition of DMSO to form aluminum oxide during Al deposition is identified by a combination of XPS and gas chromatography/electron ionization-mass spectrometry. Another Al-ion electrolyte with weakly coordinating tetrakis(hexafluoroisopropyloxy) borate ((B[hfip]4)-) anion in DME was also synthesized and characterized. These Al-ion electrolytes with weakly coordinating anions exhibit distinct chemical and electrochemical properties comparing with chloroaluminate ionic liquid electrolytes. They create an opportunity to develop new Al electrolyte system.

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