Development of a safe and high-performance electrolyte based on Phenylacetonitrile (C6H5CH2CN) and ionic liquid blends


LE STUDIUM Multidisciplinary Journal, 2021, 5, 16-39

 Arunabh Ghosh 1, 2 , Fouad Ghamouss 2, Flavien Ivol 2, Marina Porcher 2, Johan Jacquemin 2 

1LE STUDIUM Institute for Advanced Studies, 45000 Orléans, France.
2Laboratoire de Physico-Chimie des Matériaux et des Électrolytes pour l’Énergie (PCM2E-EA 6299), Université de Tours, Parc de Grandmont, Tours 37200, France.


The increasing need in the development of storage devices is calling for the formulation of alternative electrolytes, electrochemically stable and safe over a wide range of conditions. To achieve this goal, electrolyte chemistry must be explored to propose alternative solvents and salts to the current acetonitrile (ACN) and tetraethylammonium tetrafluoroborate (Et4NBF4) benchmarks, respectively. Herein, phenylacetonitrile (Ph-ACN) has been proposed as a novel alternative solvent to ACN in supercapacitors. To establish the main advantages and drawbacks of such a substitution, Ph-ACN + Et4NBF4 blends were formulated and characterized prior to being compared with the benchmark electrolyte and another alternative electrolyte based on adiponitrile (ADN). While promising results were obtained, the low Et4NBF4 solubility in Ph-ACN seems to be the main limiting factor. To solve such an issue, an ionic liquid (IL), namely 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bis[(trifluoromethyl)sulfonyl] imide (EmimTFSI), was proposed to replace Et4NBF4. Unsurprisingly, the Ph-ACN + EmimTFSI blend was found to be fully miscible over the whole range of composition giving thus the flexibility to optimize the electrolyte formulation over a large range of IL concentrations up to 4.0 M. The electrolyte containing 2.7 M of EmimTFSI in Ph-ACN was identified as the optimized blend thanks to its interesting transport properties. Furthermore, this blend possesses also the prerequisites of a safe electrolyte, with an operating liquid range from at least −60 °C to +130 °C, and operating window of 3.0 V and more importantly, a flash point of 125 °C. Finally, excellent electrochemical performances were observed by using this electrolyte in a symmetric supercapacitor configuration, showing another advantage of mixing an ionic liquid with Ph-ACN. We also supported key structural descriptors by density functional theory (DFT) and COnductor-like Screening Model for Real Solvents (COSMO-RS) calculations, which can be associated to physical and electrochemical properties of the resultant electrolytes.


Ionic liquids; phenylacetonitrile; alternative electrolyte; safety; supercapacitors
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Le STUDIUM Multidisciplinary Journal