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Faradaically selective membrane for liquid metal displacement batteries


In the realm of stationary energy storage, a plurality of candidate chemistries continues to vie for acceptance, among them the Na–NiCl2 displacement battery, which has eluded widespread adoption owing to the fragility of the β″-Al2O3 membrane. Here we report a porous electronically conductive membrane, which achieves chemical selectivity by preferred faradaic reaction instead of by regulated ionic conduction. Fitted with a porous membrane of TiN, a displacement cell comprising a liquid Pb positive electrode, a liquid Li–Pb negative electrode and a molten-salt electrolyte of PbCl2 dissolved in LiCl–KCl eutectic was cycled at a current density of 150 mA cm−2 at a temperature of 410 °C and exhibited a coulombic efficiency of 92% and a round-trip energy efficiency of 71%. As an indication of industrial scalability, we show comparable performance in a cell fitted with a faradaic membrane fashioned out of porous metal.

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Fig. 1: Schematic of displacement cell discharging.
Fig. 2: Performance of a Li–Pb||PbCl2 cell.
Fig. 3: Chemical analysis of a Pb droplet on the lower surface of the membrane and of the Pb permeation rate through the membrane.
Fig. 4: Performance of a Mg–Pb||PbCl2 cell.


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We acknowledge financial support from Total, S.A.

Author information




H.Y., B.C., F.C. and T.O. contributed equally to this work. D.R.S., B.C., H.Y. and T.O. conceived of the idea for the project. H.Y., B.C., F.C., T.O., J.Z. and N.T. constructed the battery and conducted the tests. F.C., J.Z., N.T. and H.Y. prepared the TiN membrane. T.O. verified the stability of TiN in this cell. H.Y., B.C., T.O. and D.R.S. prepared the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Donald R. Sadoway.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary Figures 1–10, Supplementary Tables 1–3.

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Yin, H., Chung, B., Chen, F. et al. Faradaically selective membrane for liquid metal displacement batteries. Nat Energy 3, 127–131 (2018).

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