Chinese scholars have made progress in the research of interface materials for aqueous zinc-ion batteries

Recently, the team of Professor Tian Huajun of the School of Energy, Power and Mechanical Engineering of North China Electric Power University released scientific research results, which innovatively solved scientific problems such as dendrite growth, hydrogen evolution and solid/liquid interface corrosion of aqueous zinc batteries. In this study, a series of three-dimensional zinc-based alloy interface materials with functional surface structure were prepared by a low-cost, rapid and universal synthesis technology, and the reaction mechanism of deposition/dissolution of zinc in a double cationic electrolyte was explored in detail.

Recently, Nature Communications published the results of this research. It is reported that this work provides technical and theoretical guidance for the discovery of new aqueous battery electrochemistry, ion storage chemistry and the development of other new electrochemical systems, and is also of great significance for the development of new aqueous batteries and other new energy storage battery systems.

According to reports, the aqueous zinc battery technology that has been commercialized is mainly based on alkaline aqueous electrolyte nickel-zinc batteries and zinc-manganese batteries. This type of alkaline battery is mainly used in small power tools, toy power supplies and other application scenarios. However, zinc batteries based on alkaline electrolyte are limited by the short cycle life of zinc anodes, and it is generally difficult to promote and apply them in large-scale energy storage.

Compared with alkaline electrolyte batteries, zinc-ion battery technology based on neutral or near-neutral aqueous electrolyte has a theoretically longer zinc anode cycle life. Aqueous zinc-ion batteries have attracted widespread attention in electronic equipment and energy storage systems because of their advantages of high safety, good environmental protection and low cost.

However, the large-scale application of aqueous zinc-ion batteries is hindered by harmful side reactions such as dendrite growth, hydrogen evolution, and metal corrosion at the solid (metal anode)/liquid (electrolyte) interface. In recent years, although some progress has been made in inhibiting the interfacial side reactions of aqueous battery materials, the ion storage mechanism and dendrite formation and inhibition mechanism of batteries under the double cationic aqueous electrolyte system are still unclear.

Schematic diagram of the research ideas of negative very low cost preparation and in situ optical characterization technology of three-dimensional zinc-based alloy. Photo courtesy of North China Electric Power University

The results show that the anode surface of the optimized three-dimensional zinc-based alloy is conducive to efficiently adjusting the reaction kinetics of zinc deposition/dissolution process. The developed interface material can effectively inhibit the growth of dendrites on the negative electrode surface in the aqueous electrolyte system based on single cation and double cation, helping to realize high-safety, long-cycle and high-performance aqueous zinc-ion batteries. At the same time, in order to gain a deeper understanding of the reaction kinetics of the battery, the research team developed and used in situ optical microscopy to study the morphological evolution of the anode of the three-dimensional structure zinc-based alloy at low current density and high current density.

Compared to other methods, this preparation process can be carried out at room temperature without any calcination treatment, and it can also be prepared in an environmentally friendly aqueous solution with a very short reaction time. This makes the negative electrode modification preparation technology promising in the application of large-scale high-safety energy storage battery system in controllable, cost-effective and large-scale production. (Source: Chen Bin, China Science News)

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