The impact of operating conditions on component and electrode development for zinc-air flow batteries

Birgit Elvira Pichler, Bernhard Stefan Berner, Nikolaus Rauch, Christian Zelger, Hans-Jürgen Pauling, Bernhard Gollas, Viktor Hacker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rechargeable zinc-air flow batteries are investigated as possible technology for fast responding large-scale electrical energy storage due to the use of inexpensive, non-toxic and abundant materials, and compact system design. The operating ranges for several parameters such as flow rate (2–8 cm s−1), concentration of electrolyte (6 or 8 M KOH), charge/discharge current densities (up to 100 mA cm−2 mean), and active or passive air supply as well as their influence on the performance and stability of the electrodes are investigated and compared. Bi-catalyzed bifunctional air electrodes are tested by means of half-cell measurements achieving minimum 200 charge/discharge cycles at 50 mA cm−2 with the longest operation time being 800 h. At this current density, charge/discharge efficiencies are in the range of 50% for all tested air electrodes. End-of-life characterization by means of scanning electron microscopy reveals mechanical degradation of the electrode material. On the negative zinc electrode, zinc deposition morphology on different current collector materials (nickel, brass, and steel) is investigated using Rota-Hull cylinders showing nickel to be the most suitable material. The pulse interrupt current method is thereby successfully applied for compact zinc deposition in a broad current density range without any electrolyte additive. Subsequent scale-up of the rechargeable zinc-air flow battery and unit cell operation is finally performed for proof-of-concept.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Electrochemistry
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jul 2018

Fields of Expertise

  • Mobility & Production
  • Advanced Materials Science


  • NAWI Graz


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