Superior Electrocatalytic Activity of a Robust Carbon-Felt Electrode with Oxygen-Rich Phosphate Groups for All-Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries
A newly prepared type of carbon felt with oxygen-rich phosphate groups is proposed as a promising electrode with good stability for all-vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs). Through direct surface modification with ammonium hexafluorophosphate (NH4PF6), phosphorus can be successfully incorporated onto the surface of the carbon felt by forming phosphate functional groups with −OH chemical moieties that exhibit good hydrophilicity. The electrochemical reactivity of the carbon felt toward the redox reactions of VO2+/VO2+ (in the catholyte) and V3+/V2+ (in the anolyte) can be effectively improved owing to the superior catalytic effects of the oxygen-rich phosphate groups. Furthermore, undesirable hydrogen evolution can be suppressed by minimizing the overpotential for the V3+/V2+ redox reaction in the anolyte of the VRFB. Cell-cycling tests with the catalyzed electrodes show improved energy efficiencies of 88.2 and 87.2 % in the 1st and 20th cycles compared with 83.0 and 81.1 %, respectively, for the pristine electrodes at a constant current density of 32 mA cm−2. These improvements are mainly attributed to the faster charge transfer allowed by the integration of the oxygen-rich phosphate groups on the carbon-felt electrode.