A research team consisting of members from Fudan University in Shanghai and the Chinese Academy of Science has been exploring the use of an AlI3 ethanol electrolyte for inexpensive and environmentally benign electrochemical energy conversion and storage devices.
The team developed dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC) using AlI3 and a new Al/I2 primary battery.
Reported in a recent issue of the Journal of American Chemistry Society, the developments have been filed for three patents.
The researchers produced the AlI3-ethanol electrolyte by adding aluminum powder and iodine into ethanol at ambient conditions. A DSSC using this electrolyte can achieve an energy conversion efficiency of 5.9%. This is comparable to the DSSC using a conventional LiI-nitrile electrolyte, which usually use expensive anhydrous LiI and toxic solvents.
For the Al/I2 battery, AlI3 is formed spontaneously when aluminum and iodine electrodes are brought into contact at room temperature.
Compared with a conventional Li/I2 battery, the new cell can supply a large discharge rate while offering current densities. The low cost of the Al/I2 system as well as its lower environmental impact makes this system an attractive device for electrochemical energy conversion and storage, according to the team.
The researchers believe that their work with the AlI3 electrolyte, based on iodide transport, can also find other applications.
The research was supported by the National High-tech Research, Development Programs and National Program on Key Basic Research Projects and the CAS Bairen Program.
“Cheap and Environmentally Benign Electrochemical Energy Storage and Conversion Devices Based on AlI3 Electrolytes”; Bofei Xue, Zhengwen Fu, Hong Li, Xizhe Liu, Sunchao Cheng, Jia Yao, Dongmei Li, Liquan Chen, and Qingbo Meng; J. Am. Chem. Soc., 128 (27), 8720 -8721, 2006. 10.1021/ja057791v S0002-7863(05)07791-7