Realizing high zinc reversibility in rechargeable batteries

Abstract

Rechargeable zinc metal batteries (RZMBs) offer a compelling complement to existing lithium ion and emerging lithium metal batteries for meeting the increasing energy storage demands of the future. Multiple recent reports have suggested that optimized electrolytes resolve a century-old challenge for RZMBs by achieving extremely reversible zinc plating/stripping with Coulombic efficiencies (CEs) approaching 100%. However, the disparity among published testing methods and conditions severely convolutes electrolyte performance comparisons. The lack of rigorous and standardized protocols is rapidly becoming an impediment to ongoing research and commercialization thrusts. This Perspective examines recent efforts to improve the reversibility of the zinc metal anode in terms of key parameters, including CE protocols, plating morphology, dendrite formation and long-term stability. Then we suggest the most appropriate standard protocols for future CE determination. Finally, we envision future strategies to improve zinc/electrolyte stability so that research efforts can be better aligned towards realistic performance targets for RZMB commercialization.

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Fig. 1: Summary of published Zn plating/stripping CE measurements.
Fig. 2: CV and galvanostatic methods for CE determination.
Fig. 3: Connecting current density and areal capacity to cumulative plated Zn capacity, morphology and cycle life.

Data availability

The datasets analysed and generated during this study are included in the paper and its Supplementary Information.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), an Energy Innovation Hub funded by Department of Energy, through IAA SN2020957. L.M. also acknowledges the Army Research Laboratory for providing financial support under the Dr. Brad. E. Forch Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship administered by the National Research Council. We thank P. Albertus (UMD) for useful discussions.

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Correspondence to Marshall A. Schroeder or Kang Xu.

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Supplementary Information

Numerical data used to generate Fig. 1.

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Ma, L., Schroeder, M.A., Borodin, O. et al. Realizing high zinc reversibility in rechargeable batteries. Nat Energy 5, 743–749 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-020-0674-x

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