Improvement of Performance By Using Catalytically Etched  Carbon Paper As  Electrode for Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries

Monday, 29 May 2017: 11:20
Grand Salon B - Section 12 (Hilton New Orleans Riverside)


The environmental aspects of fossil fuels and depletion of their reservoirs are main reasons for the growing use of renewable energy sources and environmentally sustainable storage technologies in recent years. Solar, wind, biomass and tidal are among climate-friendly energy sources. But the integration of these sources into large scale grid application is limited by their intermittent nature. Electrical energy storage (EES) technology solves this issue by storing energy on large scales. Redox flow batteries (RFBs) due to unique advantages of design flexibility, long cycle life, decoupled scaling of power and energy, are amongst suitable candidates of EES. All Vanadium Redox Flow Battery (VRFB) introduced in 1980s by Maria Skyllas-Kzacos et al has advantage over conventional RFBs as it employs four different oxidation states of vanadium; V4+/V5+ to cathode side and V2+/V3+ to anode side hence minimizes crossover effect through membrane. A typical VRFB contains two electrolyte reservoirs connected to cell sandwiching an ion exchange membrane between electrodes. V4+ is oxidized to V5+ on cathode while V3+ is reduced to V2+ on anode during charging and these charged species are reversed back during discharging.

Carbon paper or felt due to its large reactive surface area, chemical stability in highly acidic solution has been widely used as electrode in VRFB, however poor electrochemical activity, low kinetics toward oxidation and reduction of vanadium ions, and less wettability arising from its hydrophobic nature limit its wide-spread application. Several modification techniques have been used to improve the catalytic activity of carbon electrode toward vanadium redox couples mainly including thermal, chemical and electrochemical treatments. Most of the modification techniques result increased activity of carbon electrode attributed to its enhanced available surface area and surface functional groups. In this work carbon paper is etched by using cobalt oxide (Co3O4) as catalyst and is used as electrode for vanadium redox flow battery cell. The etched carbon paper is found better than pristine one in terms of charging overpotential, IR drop, charge/discharge capacities and energy efficiency at all working current densities. Etched carbon paper showed almost 31.0 Ah/L discharge capacity at initial working current density of 50 mA/cm2 compare to 16.0 Ah/L of pristine one, While 16 Ah/L at 150 mA/cm2 where pristine and thermally treated (TT) carbon paper have no performance. Similar effect was noticed in terms of energy efficiency, the etched carbon paper showed 70% energy efficiency at 150 mA/cm2 which is dramatically higher than pristine and thermally treated carbon paper electrodes. The improved performance is attributed to increased surface area, wettability and presence of microscopic pores on the surface of etched carbon paper.