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Rheological and Electrochemical Optimization of Ionic Liquid-based Electrolytes for Flexographic Printed Energy Storage Solutions
Renewable energy solutions have been thrust to the forefront of issues pressing countries around the world. As of May 2009, 33 of the 50 United States have enacted renewable portfolio standards that must be achieved within the next 10-20 years. These goals will help alleviate some of the dependence on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but it is only the beginning of the path to energy independence and sustainability. While the potential for supporting the grid by using a combination of renewable energy sources is high, some of the most popular, wind and solar, are intermittent at best in the frequency of energy production; the wind does not always blow, nor does the sun always shine. Such a variable nature requires balancing generation and consumption, and as of yet there is a major gap in terms of effective, affordable storage.
This research focuses on advancing the mechanical understanding of solid state, ionic liquid-based electrolytes for flexographic printed grid-scale energy storage. In order to print such materials, many factors must be taken into account. Their rheology will play an extraordinarily important role, along with the electrochemical intereactions between the components inside of the inks created. Maintaining high electrical conductivity and thermal stability is paramount. Ionic liquids are typically thermally stable around 100 ˚C and can be excellent solvents. Presently, investigations are being conducted to quantify the electrochemical properties as a result of the mass ratio between Zn ions dissolved from a salt (Zinc triflate) in the ionic liquid 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium triflate. Research into alternative and novel materials is ongoing to optimize electrochemical properties and to minimize environmental impact.