Prof. Yi-Chun Lu’s research on sustainable batteries published in Nature Sustainability
24 Jul, 2023

The research of Professor Yi-Chun Lu and her team on sustainable batteries has been published in Nature Sustainability, an online journal that publishes the best research about sustainability from the natural and social sciences, as well as from the fields of engineering and policy.

The team use hydrotropic solubilization (common strategy in pharmaceutical science for increasing drug solubility) to create eco-friendly and intrinsically safe battery electrolytes.

Paper Title: Hydrotropic solubilization of zinc acetates for sustainable aqueous battery electrolytes

Authors: Dejian Dong, Tairan Wang, Yue Sun, Jun Fan & Yi-Chun Lu


Among the more sustainable battery chemistries, the aqueous zinc system is receiving renewed interest. To accelerate the practical applications of this promising technology, an effective strategy is to deploy high salt concentration electrolytes that could address the critical technical barriers, notably hydrogen evolution reaction and dendrite growth at the anode side. However, the state-of-the-art recipes are either zinc-ion deficient or halogen salt dependent, both of which unfortunately create extra challenges. Here we show a highly concentrated aqueous electrolyte formula utilizing zinc acetate, an otherwise poorly water-soluble but cheap and eco-friendly salt. The unprecedented solubility (up to 23 m) is a result of the introduction of hydrotropic agents that transform the acetate anion ligands to a hydrophilic coordination structure. All three hydrotropic agents including potassium acetate, urea and acetamide are effective in constructing highly concentrated zinc acetate electrolytes with which the assembled Zn//pyrene-4,5,9,10-tetraone full cell retains 70% of its initial capacity after 4,000 cycles. This work provides a unique opportunity to design high-performance electrolytes for applications in the wide battery space.

The full research paper can be found at:

The first author Dejian Dong, a PhD student in MAE Department, shows the prototype of the zinc ion batteries using highly concentrated zinc acetate electrolyte.

The prototype of the zinc ion batteries using highly concentrated zinc acetate electrolyte powers an LED light.

The solubilisation process of zinc acetate using a hydrotropic solubilisation agent.

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