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Selective Ion Transporting Polymerized Ionic Liquid Membrane Separator for Enhancing Cycle Stability and Durability in Secondary Zinc–Air Battery Systems

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journal contribution
posted on 08.09.2016, 00:00 by Ho Jung Hwang, Won Seok Chi, Ohchan Kwon, Jin Goo Lee, Jong Hak Kim, Yong-Gun Shul
Rechargeable secondary zinc–air batteries with superior cyclic stability were developed using commercial polypropylene (PP) membrane coated with polymerized ionic liquid as separators. The anionic exchange polymer was synthesized copolymerizing 1-[(4-ethenyl­phenyl)­methyl]-3-butyl­imidazolium hydroxide (EBIH) and butyl methacrylate (BMA) monomers by free radical polymerization for both functionality and structural integrity. The ionic liquid induced copolymer was coated on a commercially available PP membrane (Celguard 5550). The coat allows anionic transfer through the separator and minimizes the migration of zincate ions to the cathode compartment, which reduces electrolyte conductivity and may deteriorate catalytic activity by the formation of zinc oxide on the surface of the catalyst layer. Energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) data revealed the copolymer-coated separator showed less zinc element in the cathode, indicating lower zinc crossover through the membrane. Ion coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) analysis confirmed over 96% of zincate ion crossover was reduced. In our charge/discharge setup, the constructed cell with the ionic liquid induced copolymer casted separator exhibited drastically improved durability as the battery life increased more than 281% compared to the pure commercial PP membrane. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) during the cycle process elucidated the premature failure of cells due to the zinc crossover for the untreated cell and revealed a substantial importance must be placed in zincate control.