Aerogel Electrodes Rechargeable Zinc-Air Batteries

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Aerogel Electrodes Rechargeable Zinc-Air Batteries ( aerogel-electrodes-rechargeable-zinc-air-batteries )

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membranes Article All-in-One Process for Mass Production of Membrane-Type Carbon Aerogel Electrodes for Solid-State Rechargeable Zinc-Air Batteries Hye-Rin Jo, Seung-Hee Park and Sung Hoon Ahn * Citation: Jo, H.-R.; Park, S.-H.; Ahn, S.H. All-in-One Process for Mass Production of Membrane-Type Carbon Aerogel Electrodes for Solid-State Rechargeable Zinc-Air Batteries. Membranes 2022, 12, 1243. https://doi.org/10.3390/ membranes12121243 Academic Editors: Kyu Hwan Lee and Jijeesh Ravi Nair Received: 6 November 2022 Accepted: 7 December 2022 Published: 8 December 2022 Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affil- iations. Copyright: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ 4.0/). Department of Bio-Chemical Engineering, Chosun University, 309 Pilmun-daero, Dong-gu, Gwangju 61452, Republic of Korea * Correspondence: sunghoon@chosun.ac.kr Abstract: This study presents a mass-production process for conductive carbon membrane-type sponge electrodes derived from recyclable cellulose biowaste. It includes an all-in-one hydrogel fabrication process for mass production, which significantly shortens the complex and expensive process for the conventional process of catalytic electrodes based on conductive supporting substrates such as the gas diffusion layer (GDL). The presence of pre-adsorbed melamine powder in the all-in-one hydrogel induces internal diffusion of the gaseous reactant for the uniform growth of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) onto the sponge-like porous carbon aerogel with a relatively thick and tortuous pore structure, thereby providing the electrochemical properties and mechanical strength simultaneously required for the air electrodes of rechargeable and quasi solid-state zinc-air batteries. Keywords: cellulose; carbon aerogel; zinc-air batteries; mass production 1. Introduction Demand for electrochemical conversion and storage systems is continuously increas- ing, including fuel cells [1], batteries [2], and the electrochemical conversion process from naturally abundant resources such as water, carbon dioxide, and ammonia to value-added chemicals [3–6]. Accordingly, the importance of highly efficient catalytic electrode design is increasing. In particular, in electrochemical reactions using gas molecules of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide as reactants, the gas diffusion layer (GDL) requires a three- dimensional (3D) hierarchical pore structure for facile mass transfer and further exposure of accessible active sites [7,8]. Zinc-air batteries (ZABs) are one of the emerging secondary bat- teries due to their high theoretical energy density of ~1046 Whkg−1 under human-friendly aqueous alkaline operating conditions [9], and air cathodes are typically fabricated by dispersing a catalyst material onto GDL, usually made of carbon nanofiber paper. Conductive membrane-type carbon sponge aerogels are regarded as promising plat- forms as air cathodes for rechargeable zinc-air batteries (ZABs). In order to ensure multi- functional catalytic activity for both Oxygen evolution reaction (OER) and oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), transition metal- and nitrogen-species should be properly introduced into the carbon aerogel on an atomic scale [10,11]. Although the most effective catalytic materi- als for ORR and OER are noble metal-based catalysts such as platinum (Pt) and iridium (Ir), respectively, non-noble metal-based catalysts have made significant progress in secur- ing multi-functional activity [12,13]. Among them, carbon nanomaterials derived from metal-organic framework, particularly zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs), exhibit very good ORR activity compared to Pt/C catalysts and moderate OER performance, and have been applied as air cathodes for rechargeable ZABs [14–16]. However, these powdery catalyst nanomaterials are prone to agglomeration in the annealing process for carboniza- tion, and redispersion into ink solutions is difficult for deposition into GDL. Furthermore, the uniform deposition onto GDL with deep, tortuous pore walls with 3D structures is Membranes 2022, 12, 1243. https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes12121243 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/membranes

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