An Air Breathing Lithium-Oxygen Battery
thesisposted on 31.10.2017, 00:00 by Baharak Sayah Sayahpour
Given that the current Li-ion battery technology is approaching theoretical specific capacity and specific energy values that are still not enough for powering satisfactorily electric vehicles or providing enough grid level storage capacities, interest in other electrochemical energy conversion and storage devices have emerged. Although systems based on multi-valent cations (Mg2+, Zn2+, etc.) are also been studied, metal air batteries have shown the highest theoretical capacity and energy densities of any other battery chemistries. However, some fundamental challenges have hampered the applications of this class of batteries as the alternative for metal-ion batteries. In brief, the major challenges holding the metal air system from large scale applications are: (i) absence of an effective air electrode which easily transfer oxygen to the heterogenous reaction interphase for oxygen reduction and evolution reactions. (ii) electrolyte instability in large voltage windows which usually occurs because of high charge overpotentials. (iii) anode poisoning and corrosion due to oxidation or reaction with air species such as CO2 and moisture. Given such obstacles, development of novel materials is needed to overcome these challenges in metal air batteries. In this thesis, a system comprised of a protected anode based on lithium carbonate, molybdenum disulfide cathode, and ionic liquid/dimethyl sulfoxide electrolyte is studied that work together, in presence of air components, such as Nitrogen, Carbon dioxide, and humidity, as a real Li-air battery with high cyclability performance up to 700 cycles. The combination of experimental and computational studies are used to provide insight into how this system operates in air and revealed that the long-life performance of this system is due to (i) a suppression of side reactions on the cathode side, which prevent the formation of by-products such as Li2CO3 and LiOH, and (ii) an effective protected anode covered with a Li2CO3 coating that effectively blocks the diffusion of the actual air components e.g., N2, CO2, and H2O and allowing only for Li ion transport. The Li-air battery developed in this work, which for the first time successfully operates in a realistic atmosphere with high cycle-life, is a promising step toward engineering the next generation of Li batteries with much higher specific energy density than Li-ion batteries.