skip to main content

Title: Electrocatalytic and Conductive Vanadium Oxide on Carbonized Bacterial Cellulose Aerogel for the Sulfur Cathode in Li-S Batteries
Many transition-metal-oxide-based catalysts have been investigated to chemically bind soluble lithium polysulfides and accelerate their redox kinetics in lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery chemistry. However, the intrinsic poor electrical conductivities of these oxides restrict their catalytic performance, consequently limiting the sulfur utilization and the rate performance of Li-S batteries. Herein, we report a freestanding electrocatalytic sulfur host consisting of hydrogen-treated VO2 nanoparticles (H-VO2) anchored on nitrogen-doped carbonized bacterial cellulose aerogels (N-CBC). The hydrogen treatment enables the formation and stabilization of the rutile VO2(R) phase with metallic conductivity at room temperature, significantly enhancing its catalytic capability compared to the as-synthesized insulative VO2(M) phase. Several measurements characterize the electrocatalytic performance of this unique H-VO2@N-CBC structure. In particular, the two kinetic barriers between S8, polysulfides, and Li2S are largely reduced by 28.2 and 43.3 kJ/mol, respectively. Accordingly, the Li-S battery performance, in terms of sulfur utilization and charge/discharge rate, is greatly improved. This work suggests an effective strategy to develop conductive catalysts based on a typical transition metal oxide (VO2) for Li-S batteries.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2129983 2103582
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Conventional lithium-ion batteries are unable to meet the increasing demands for high-energy storage systems, because of their limited theoretical capacity. 1 In recent years, intensive attention has been paid to enhancing battery energy storage capability to satisfy the increasing energy demand in modern society and reduce the average energy capacity cost. Among the candidates for next generation high energy storage systems, the lithium sulfur battery is especially attractive because of its high theoretical specific energy (around 2600 W h kg-1) and potential cost reduction. In addition, sulfur is a cost effective and environmentally friendly material due to its abundance and low-toxicity. 2 Despite all of these advantages, the practical application of lithium sulfur batteries to date has been hindered by a series of obstacles, including low active material loading, poor cycle life, and sluggish sulfur conversion kinetics. 3 Achieving high mass loading cathode in the traditional 2D planar thick electrode has been challenged. The high distorsion of the traditional planar thick electrodes for ion/electron transfer leads to the limited utilization of active materials and high resistance, which eventually results in restricted energy density and accelerated electrode failure. 4 Furthermore, of the electrolyte to pores in the cathode and utilization ratio of active materials. Catalysts such as MnO 2 and Co dopants were employed to accelerate the sulfur conversion reaction during the charge and discharge process. 5 However, catalysts based on transition metals suffer from poor electronic conductivity. Other catalysts such as transition metal dopants are also limited due to the increased process complexities. . In addition, the severe shuttle effects in Li-S batteries may lead to fast failures of the battery. Constructing a protection layer on the separator for limiting the transmission of soluble polysulfides is considered an effective way to eliminate the shuttle phenomenon. However, the soluble sulfides still can largely dissolve around the cathode side causing the sluggish reaction condition for sulfur conversion. 5 To mitigate the issues above, herein we demonstrate a novel sulfur electrode design strategy enabled by additive manufacturing and oxidative vapor deposition (oCVD). Specifically, the electrode is strategically designed into a hierarchal hollow structure via stereolithography technique to increase sulfur usage. The active material concentration loaded to the battery cathode is controlled precisely during 3D printing by adjusting the number of printed layers. Owing to its freedom in geometry and structure, the suggested design is expected to improve the Li ions and electron transport rate considerably, and hence, the battery power density. The printed cathode is sintered at 700 °C at N 2 atmosphere to achieve carbonization of the cathode during which intrinsic carbon defects (e.g., pentagon carbon) as catalytic defect sites are in-situ generated on the cathode. The intrinsic carbon defects equipped with adequate electronic conductivity. The sintered 3D cathode is then transferred to the oCVD chamber for depositing a thin PEDOT layer as a protection layer to restrict dissolutions of sulfur compounds in the cathode. Density functional theory calculation reveals the electronic state variance between the structures with and without defects, the structure with defects demonstrates the higher kinetic condition for sulfur conversion. To further identify the favorable reaction dynamic process, the in-situ XRD is used to characterize the transformation between soluble and insoluble polysulfides, which is the main barrier in the charge and discharge process of Li-S batteries. The results show the oCVD coated 3D printed sulfur cathode exhibits a much higher kinetic process for sulfur conversion, which benefits from the highly tailored hierarchal hollow structure and the defects engineering on the cathode. Further, the oCVD coated 3D printed sulfur cathode also demonstrates higher stability during long cycling enabled by the oCVD PEDOT protection layer, which is verified by an absorption energy calculation of polysulfides at PEDOT. Such modeling and analysis help to elucidate the fundamental mechanisms that govern cathode performance and degradation in Li-S batteries. The current study also provides design strategies for the sulfur cathode as well as selection approaches to novel battery systems. References: Bhargav, A., (2020). Lithium-Sulfur Batteries: Attaining the Critical Metrics. Joule 4 , 285-291. Chung, S.-H., (2018). Progress on the Critical Parameters for Lithium–Sulfur Batteries to be Practically Viable. Advanced Functional Materials 28 , 1801188. Peng, H.-J.,(2017). Review on High-Loading and High-Energy Lithium–Sulfur Batteries. Advanced Energy Materials 7 , 1700260. Chu, T., (2021). 3D printing‐enabled advanced electrode architecture design. Carbon Energy 3 , 424-439. Shi, Z., (2021). Defect Engineering for Expediting Li–S Chemistry: Strategies, Mechanisms, and Perspectives. Advanced Energy Materials 11 . Figure 1 
    more » « less
  2. Enhancing battery energy storage capability and reducing the cost per average energy capacity is urgent to satisfy the increasing energy demand in modern society. The lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery is especially attractive because of its high theoretical specific energy (around 2600 W h kg-1), low cost, and low toxicity.1 Despite these advantages, the practical utilization of lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries to date has been hindered by a series of obstacles, including low active material loading, shuttle effects, and sluggish sulfur conversion kinetics.2 The traditional 2D planer thick electrode is considered as a general approach to enhance the mass loading of the Li-S battery.3 However, the longer diffusion length of lithium ions, which resulted in high tortuosity in the compact stacking thick electrode, decreases the penetration ability of the electrolyte into the entire cathode.4 Although an effort to induce catalysts in the cathode was made to promote sulfur conversion kinetic conditions, catalysts based on transition metals suffered from the low electronic conductivity, and some elements (i.e.: Co, Mn) may even absorb and restrict polysulfides for further reaction. 5 To mitigate the issues listed above, herein we propose a novel sulfur cathode design strategy enabled by additive manufacturing and oxidative chemical vapor deposition (oCVD). 6,7 Specifically, the cathode is designed to have a hierarchal hollow structure via a stereolithography technique to increase sulfur usage. Microchannels are constructed on the tailored sulfur cathode to further fortify the wettability of the electrolyte. The as-printed cathode is then sintered at 700 °C in an N2 atmosphere in order to generate a carbon skeleton (i.e.: carbonization of resin) with intrinsic carbon defects. The intrinsic carbon defects are expected to create favorable sulfur conversion conditions with sufficient electronic conductivity. In this study, the oCVD technique is leveraged to produce a conformal coating layer to eliminate shuttle effects. Identified by scanning electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy mapping characterizations, the oCVD PEDOT is not only covered on the surface of the cathode but also on the inner surface of the microchannels. High-resolution x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analyses (C 1s and S 2p orbitals) between pristine and modified samples demonstrate that a high concentration of the defects has been produced on the sulfur matrix after sintering and posttreatment. In-operando XRD diffractograms show that the Li2S is generated in the oCVD PEDOT-coated sample during the charge and discharge process even with a high current density, confirming an eminent sulfur conversion kinetic condition. In addition, ICP-OES results of lithium metal anode at different states of charge (SoC) verify that the shuttle effects are excellently restricted by oCVD PEDOT. Overall, the high mass loading (> 5 mg cm-2) with an elevated sulfur utilization ratio, accelerated reaction kinetics and stabilized electrochemical process have been achieved on the sulfur cathode by implementing this innovative cathode design strategy. The results of this study demonstrate significant promises of employing pure sulfur powder with high electrochemical performance and suggest a pathway to the higher energy and power density battery. References: 1 Chen, Y. Adv Mater 33, e2003666. 2 Bhargav, A. Joule 4, 285-291. 3 Liu, S. Nano Energy 63, 103894. 4 Chu, T. Carbon Energy 3. 5 Li, Y. Matter 4, 1142-1188. 6 John P. Lock. Macromolecules 39, 4 (2006). 7 Zekoll, S. Energy & Environmental Science 11, 185-201. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Lithium–sulfur batteries are promising candidates for next‐generation energy storage devices due to their outstanding theoretical energy density. However, they suffer from low sulfur utilization and poor cyclability, greatly limiting their practical implementation. Herein, we adopted a phosphate‐functionalized zirconium metal–organic framework (Zr‐MOF) as a sulfur host. With their porous structure, remarkable electrochemical stability, and synthetic versatility, Zr‐MOFs present great potential in preventing soluble polysulfides from leaching. Phosphate groups were introduced to the framework post‐synthetically since they have shown a strong affinity towards lithium polysulfides and an ability to facilitate Li ion transport. The successful incorporation of phosphate in MOF‐808 was demonstrated by a series of techniques including infrared spectroscopy, solid‐state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and X‐ray pair distribution function analysis. When employed in batteries, phosphate‐functionalized Zr‐MOF (MOF‐808‐PO4) exhibits significantly enhanced sulfur utilization and ion diffusion compared to the parent framework, leading to higher capacity and rate capability. The improved capacity retention and inhibited self‐discharge rate also demonstrate effective polysulfide encapsulation utilizing MOF‐808‐PO4. Furthermore, we explored their potential towards high‐density batteries by examining the cycling performance at various sulfur loadings. Our approach to correlate structure with function using hybrid inorganic–organic materials offers new chemical design strategies for advancing battery materials.

    more » « less
  4. The two polymorphs of lithium cobalt oxide, LiCoO 2 , present an opportunity to contrast the structural requirements for reversible charge storage (battery function) vs. catalysis of water oxidation/oxygen evolution (OER; 2H 2 O → O 2 + 4H + + 4e − ). Previously, we reported high OER electrocatalytic activity from nanocrystals of the cubic phase vs. poor activity from the layered phase – the archetypal lithium-ion battery cathode. Here we apply transmission electron microscopy, electron diffraction, voltammetry and elemental analysis under OER electrolysis conditions to show that labile Li + ions partially deintercalate from layered LiCoO 2 , initiating structural reorganization to the cubic spinel LiCo 2 O 4 , in parallel with formation of a more active catalytic phase. Comparison of cubic LiCoO 2 (50 nm) to iridium (5 nm) nanoparticles for OER catalysis (commercial benchmark for membrane-based systems) in basic and neutral electrolyte reveals excellent performance in terms of Tafel slope (48 mV dec −1 ), overpotential ( η = ∼420 mV@10 mA cm −2 at pH = 14), faradaic yield (100%) and OER stability (no loss in 14 hours). The inherent OER activity of cubic LiCoO 2 and spinel LiCo 2 O 4 is attributed to the presence of [Co 4 O 4 ] n+ cubane structural units, which provide lower oxidation potential to Co 4+ and lower inter-cubane hole mobility. By contrast, the layered phase, which lacks cubane units, exhibits extensive intra-planar hole delocalization which entropically hinders the four electron/hole concerted OER reaction. An essential distinguishing trait of a truly relevant catalyst is efficient continuous operation in a real electrolyzer stack. Initial trials of cubic LiCoO 2 in a solid electrolyte alkaline membrane electrolyzer indicate continuous operation for 1000 hours (without failure) at current densities up to 400 mA cm −2 and overpotential lower than proven PGM (platinum group metal) catalysts. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    A stable lean‐electrolyte operating lithium–sulfur (Li–S) battery based on a cathode of Li2S in situ electrocatalytically deposited from L2S8catholyte onto a support of metallic molybdenum disulfide (1T‐MoS2) on carbon cloth (CC) is created. The 1T‐MoS2significantly accelerates the conversion Li2S8catholyte to Li2S, chemically adsorbs lithium polysulfide (LiPSs) from solution, and suppresses crossover of the LiPSs to the anode. These experimental findings are explained by density functional theory calculations that show that 1T‐MoS2gives rise to strong adsorption of polysulfides on its surface and is electrocatalytic for the targeted reversible Li–S conversion reactions. The CC/1T‐MoS2electrode in a Li–S battery delivers an initial capacity of 1238 mAh g−1, with a low capacity fade of only 0.051% per cycle over 500 cycles at 0.5C. Even at a high sulfur loading (4.4 mg cm−2) and low electrolyte/S (E/S) ratio of 3.7 µL mg−1, the battery achieves an initial reversible capacity of 1176 mA h g−1at 0.5C, with 87% capacity retention after 160 cycles. The post 500 cycles Li metal opposing 1T‐MoS2is substantially smoother than the Li opposing CC, with XPS supporting the role of 1T‐MoS2in inhibiting LiPSs crossover.

    more » « less