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Ethanol as an electrolyte additive for alkaline zinc-air flow batteries

Updated: Oct 21, 2018

Soraya Hosseini, Siow Jing Han, Amornchai Arponwichanop, Tetsu Yonezawa & Soorathep Kheawhom

Zinc-air flow batteries exhibit high energy density and offer several appealing advantages. However, their low efficiency of zinc utilization resulted from passivation and corrosion of the zinc anodes has limited their broad application. In this work, ethanol, which is considered as an environmentally friendly solvent, is examined as an electrolyte additive to potassium hydroxide (KOH) aqueous electrolyte to improve electrochemical performance of the batteries. Besides, the effects of adding different percentages of ethanol (0–50% v/v) to 8 M KOH aqueous electrolyte were investigated and discussed. Cyclic voltammograms revealed that the presence of 5–10% v/v ethanol is attributed to the enhancement of zinc dissolution and the hindrance of zinc anode passivation. Also, potentiodynamic polarization and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy confirmed that adding 5–10% v/v ethanol could effectively suppress the formation of passivating layers on the active surface of the zinc anodes. Though the addition of ethanol increased solution resistance and hence slightly decreased the discharge potential of the batteries, a significant enhancement of discharge capacity and energy density could be sought. Also, galvanostatic discharge results indicated that the battery using 10% v/v ethanol electrolyte exhibited the highest electrochemical performance with 30% increase in discharge capacity and 16% increase in specific energy over that of KOH electrolyte without ethanol.

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