A lack of adequate energy storage technologies is arguably the greatest hindrance to a modern sustainable energy infrastructure. Chemical energy storage, in the form of batteries, is an obvious solution to the problem. Unfortunately, today’s state of the art battery technologies fail to meet the desired metrics for full scale electric grid and/or electric vehicle role out. Considerable effort from scientists and engineers has gone into the pursuit of battery chemistries theoretically capable of far outperforming leading technologies like Li-ion cells. For instance, an anode of the relatively abundant and cheap metal, magnesium, would boost the specific energy by over 4.6 times that of the current Li-ion anode (LiC6).
The work presented here explores the compatibility of magnesium electrolytes in TFSI–-based ionic liquids with a Mg anode (TFSI = bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide). Correlations are made between the Mg2+ speciation conditions in bulk solutions (as determined via Raman spectroscopy) and the corresponding electrochemical behavior of the electrolytes. It was found that by creating specific chelating conditions, with an appropriate Mg salt, the desired electrochemical behavior could be obtained, i.e. reversible electrodeposition and dissolution. Removal of TFSI– contact ion pairs from the Mg2+ solvation shell was found to be essential for reversible electrodeposition. Ionic liquids with polyethylene glycol chains pendent from a parent pyrrolidinium cation were synthesized and used to create the necessary complexes with Mg2+, from Mg(BH4)2, so that reversible electrodeposition from a purely ionic liquid medium was achieved.
The following document discusses findings from several electrochemical experiments on magnesium electrolytes in ionic liquids. Explanations for the failure of many of these systems to produce reversible Mg electrodeposition are provided. The key characteristics of ionic liquid systems that are capable of achieving reversible Mg electrodeposition are also given.