Surface properties and graphitization of polyacrylonitrile based fiber electrodes affecting the negative half-cell reaction in vanadium redox flow batteries

  • chair:

    Langner, J. / Bruns, M. / Dixon, D. / Nefedov, A. / Wöll, C. / Scheiba, F. / Ehrenberg, H. / Roth, C. / Melke, J. (2016) 

  • place:

    doi:10.1016 / j.jpowsour, 2016, 321, 210-218

  • Date: Juli 2016


Carbon felt electrodes for vanadium redox flow batteries are obtained by the graphitization of polyacrylonitrile based felts at different temperatures. Subsequently, the surface of the felts is modified via thermal oxidation at various temperatures. A single-cell experiment shows that the voltage efficiency is increased by this treatment. Electrode potentials measured with reference electrode setup show that this voltage efficiency increase is caused mainly by a reduction of the overpotential of the negative half-cell reaction.

Consequently, this reaction is investigated further by cyclic voltammetry and the electrode activity is correlated with structural and surface chemical properties of the carbon fibers. By Raman, X-ray photoelectron and near edge X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy the role of edge sites and oxygen containing functional groups (OCFs) for the electrochemical activity are elucidated.

A significant activity increase is observed in correlation with these two characteristics. The amount of OCFs is correlated with structural defects (e.g. edge sites) of the carbon fibers and therefore decreases with an increasing graphitization degree. Thus, for the same thermal oxidation temperature carbon fibers graphitized at a lower temperature show higher activities than those graphitized at a higher temperature.