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β-Nickel hydroxide cathode material for nano-suspension redox flow batteries

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As part of an effort to build a prototype flow battery system using a nano-suspension containing β-Ni(OH)2 nanoparticles as the cathode material, nanosized β-Ni(OH)2 particles with well-controlled particle size and morphology were synthesized via the one-step precipitation of a NiCl2 precursor. The composition and morphology of the nanoparticles were characterized by scanning electronic microscopy (SEM) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). The XRD patterns confirmed that β-Ni(OH)2 was successfully synthesized, while SEM results showed that the particle sizes range from 70 to 150 nm. To ensure that Ni(OH)2 could be employed in the nano-suspension flow battery, the electrochemical performance of the synthesized β-Ni(OH)2 was initially tested in pouch cells through charge/discharge cycling. The phase transformations occurring during charge/discharge were investigated using in-situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy to obtain the shift in the oxidation state of Ni (X-ray adsorption near edge structure, XANES) and the distances between Ni and surrounding atoms in charged and discharged states (extended X-ray absorption fine structure, EXAFS). XANES results indicated that the electrode in the discharged state was a mixture of phases because the edge position did not shift back completely. XAFS results further proved that the discharge capacity was provided by β-NiOOH and the ratio between β-Ni(OH)2 and γ-NiOOH in the electrode in the discharged state was 71:29. Preliminary nano-suspension tests in a lab-scale cell were conducted to understand the behavior of the nanosuspension during charge/discharge cycling and to optimize the operating conditions.

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This research was funded by US Department of Energy, Advanced Research Funding Agency — Energy (ARPA-E) award #AR000387. MRCAT operations are supported by the Department of Energy and the MRCAT member institutions. Use of the Argonne National Laboratory, Advanced Photon Source and Electron Microscopy Center are supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH113.

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Correspondence to Vijay Ramani.

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Li, Y., He, C., Timofeeva, E.V. et al. β-Nickel hydroxide cathode material for nano-suspension redox flow batteries. Front. Energy 11, 401–409 (2017).

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