Wetting of the liquid metal on the solid electrolyte of a liquid metal battery controls the operating temperature and performance of the battery. Liquid sodium electrodes are particularly attractive because of their low cost, natural abundance, and geological distribution. However, they wet poorly on a solid electrolyte near its melting temperature, limiting their widespread suitability for low-temperature batteries to be used for large-scale energy storage systems. Herein, we develop an isolated metal-island strategy that can improve sodium wetting in sodium-beta alumina batteries that allows operation at lower temperatures. Our results suggest that in situ heat treatment of a solid electrolyte followed by bismuth deposition effectively eliminates oxygen and moisture from the surface of the solid electrolyte, preventing the formation of an oxide layer on the liquid sodium, leading to enhanced wetting. We also show that employing isolated bismuth islands significantly improves cell performance, with cells retaining 94% of their charge after the initial cycle, an improvement over cells without bismuth islands. These results suggest that coating isolated metal islands is a promising and straightforward strategy for the development of low-temperature sodium-β alumina batteries.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)