A battery that sucks up carbon dioxide! Westlake University develops new organic energy storage materials

Wouldn’t it be the best of both worlds if there was a way to increase the use of clean renewable energy while capturing and harnessing carbon emissions at the same time?

This is not a fantasy. Recently, the team of Wang Pan, a researcher at Westlake University, the team of Michael J. Aziz, Ph.D. of Harvard University, and the team of Dr. Ji Yunlong of Hangzhou Institute for Advanced Study of the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, developed a class of water-soluble organic energy storage small molecules based on phenazine derivatives, and proposed a method to realize the integration of electrochemical carbon capture during the charging and discharging process of aqueous organic flow batteries. That is, based on a newly synthesized small molecule, they developed an aqueous flow battery capable of capturing and releasing carbon dioxide. The results were published in Nature Energy.

CO2 capture-release and energy storage-delivery systems. Photo courtesy of the research group

In the previous research work, they found that phenazine organic small molecules will cause “pH swing” in aqueous solutions due to their unique proton-coupled redox characteristics during the charging and discharging process. So I thought about how to use this phenomenon and use the flow battery system to act as this “carbon catcher”.

They have developed a series of new members of the phenazine “family” according to different functions and application scenarios. The new member, 1,8-ESP, shares the same “backbone” (mother nucleus) as 1,6-AFP, but grafts different “limbs” (functional groups, which refer to atoms or groups of atoms that affect the physicochemical properties of organic compounds); The previous generation of small molecules used amino acids, and this generation, the team replaced it with sulfonate.

As a result, the “old skeleton” pulled out new shoots and burst out new vitality: it can not only realize the energy storage function of aqueous flow batteries, but also capture and release carbon dioxide.

The researchers tested the performance of the 1,8-ESP aqueous flow battery and found that it has a series of superior performances. This small molecule and its developed battery have high water solubility “from acid to alkali”, good carbon dioxide capture performance, high stability, good oxidation resistance and low energy cost.

In other words, Wang Pan’s laboratory has successfully achieved efficient and high-capacity capture of carbon dioxide. In actual operation, the battery system with 1,8-ESP as the active material can be used as a carbon dioxide capture system and energy storage at the same time. The system can adjust and respond to energy storage and carbon capture in time according to market and actual demand to obtain maximum economic benefits. (Source: Wen Caifei, China Science News)

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