Exploring the role of electrode microstructure on the performance of non-aqueous redox flow batteries

Antoni Forner Cuenca, Emily E. Penn, Alexandra M. Oliveira, Fikile R. Brushett (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
432 Downloads (Pure)


Redox flow batteries are an emerging technology for long-duration grid energy storage, but further cost reductions are needed to accelerate adoption. Improving electrode performance within the electrochemical stack offers a pathway to reduced system cost through decreased resistance and increased power density. To date, most research efforts have focused on modifying the surface chemistry of carbon electrodes to enhance reaction kinetics, electrochemically active surface area, and wettability. Less attention has been given to electrode microstructure, which has a significant impact on reactant distribution and pressure drop within the flow cell. Here, drawing from commonly used carbon-based diffusion media (paper, felt, cloth), we systematically investigate the influence of electrode microstructure on electrochemical performance. We employ a range of techniques to characterize the microstructure, pressure drop, and electrochemically active surface area in combination with in-operando diagnostics performed in a single electrolyte flow cell using a kinetically facile redox couple dissolved in a non-aqueous electrolyte. Of the materials tested, the cloth electrode shows the best performance; the highest current density at a set overpotential accompanied by the lowest hydraulic resistance. We hypothesize that the bimodal pore size distribution and periodic, well-defined microstructure of the cloth are key to lowering mass transport resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)A2230-A2241
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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