Electrochemical Behavior of Quinoxaline in Aqueous Electrolytes

Wednesday, 29 July 2015: 14:40
Dochart (Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre)
J. D. Milshtein, L. Su, C. Liou, A. F. Badel, and F. R. Brushett (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Organic redox active compounds offer a new pathway towards affordable aqueous redox flow batteries (RFBs) due to their electrochemical performance, low cost, and design flexibility. Proposed organic active material candidates for aqueous RFBs have been limited to quinones1–3, a class of cyclic organic molecules distinguished by an even number of ketone (R–C(=O)–R’) groups4. Our experimental study widens the search for organic active material candidates to quinoxaline, a bicyclic organic molecule consisting of fused benzene and pyrazine rings. Quinoxaline electrochemical behavior has previously been characterized in non-aqueous electrolytes5–9, and several derivatives have been tested in a non-aqueous redox flow battery10. Aqueous quinoxaline was also recently applied as a redox active compound in a solar-rechargeable RFB device11, but the exploration of quinoxaline electrochemical behavior was not the focus of that study. To the best of our knowledge, the work presented here is the first comprehensive study to consider the electrochemical behavior of aqueous quinoxaline.

The electrochemical behavior of quinoxaline in aqueous electrolytes spanning a wide range of cations (Li+, Na+, K+), anions (Cl-, NO3-, OH-, SO42-, HCO3-, C2H3O2-), and pH were investigated to determine the best conditions for the (electro)chemical reversibility and mass-transfer properties of quinoxaline. Specifically, this work focuses on interpreting results from cyclic voltammetry (CV) and rotating disk voltammetry (RDV) to analyze quinoxaline electrochemical performance. Several key trends were identified. First, solution pH has the strongest impact on quinoxaline electrochemical performance, reducing peak separation (Figure 1) and improving cycle stability (Figure 2). When stable, quinoxaline was found to have a redox potential of E = -0.5 V vs. RHE. Second, certain anions were found to reduce peak separation (Cl-, SO42-) but to a lesser degree than increased alkalinity. Third, cations were found to have a negligible effect on CV behavior. Quantitative analyses, performed on select electrolytes, indicated that aqueous quinoxaline redox behavior was characterized by a single wave, two-electron transfer process, resulting in a theoretical capacity of 410 mAh g-1. Further, quinoxaline solubility in KCl-based electrolytes was found to be as high as 4 M. This combination of high gravimetric capacity, high solubility, and low redox potential makes quinoxaline a promising material for application in an aqueous RFB.


            We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. The assistance of Dr. Kyler Carroll, Dr. Emily Carino, Mr. Jeffry Kowalski, and Mr. Steven Brown is also much appreciated.


1. B. Huskinson et al., Nature, 505, 195–198 (2014).

2. Y. Xu, Y.H. Wen, J. Cheng, G.-P. Cao, and Y.-S. Yang, Electrochimica Acta, 55, 715–720 (2010).

3. B. Yang, L. Hoober-Burkhardt, F. Wang, G. S. Prakash, and S. R. Narayanan, J. Electrochem. Soc., 161, A1371–A1380 (2014).

4. G. P. Moss, P. A. S. Smith, and D. Tavernier, Pure Appl. Chem., 67, 1307–1375 (1995).

5. D. van der Meer and D. Feil, Recl. Trav. Chim. Pays-Bas, 87, 746–754 (1968).

6. D. van der Meer, Recl. Trav. Chim. Pays-Bas, 88, 1361–1372 (1969).

7. D. van der Meer, Recl. Trav. Chim. Pays-Bas, 89, 51–67 (1970).

8. J. R. Ames, M. A. Houghtaling, and D. L. Terrain, Electrochimica Acta, 37, 1433–1436 (1992).

9. K. R. Barqawi and M. A. Atfah, Electrochimica Acta, 32, 597–599 (1987).

10. F. R. Brushett, J. T. Vaughey, and A. N. Jansen, Adv. Energy Mater., 2, 1390–1396 (2012).

11. N. F. Yan, G. R. Li, and X. P. Gao, J. Electrochem. Soc., 161, A736–A741 (2014).