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Front. Chem. | doi: 10.3389/fchem.2019.00678

Investigation of the Environmental Stability of Poly(vinyl alcohol)–KOH Polymer Electrolytes for Flexible Zinc–Air Batteries

Xiayue Fan1,  Jie Liu1, Jia Ding1,  Yida Deng1,  Xiaopeng Han1, Wenbin Hu1, 2 and  Cheng Zhong1, 2*
  • 1Tianjin University, China
  • 2Joint School of National University of Singapore and Tianjin University, China

Next-generation wearable and portable electronic devices require the development of flexible energy-storage devices with high energy density and low cost. Over the past few decades, flexible zinc–air batteries (FZABs), characterized by their extremely high theoretical energy density from consuming oxygen in air and low cost, have been regarded as one of the most promising power supplies. However, their unique half-open structure poses great challenges for the environmental stability of their components, including the electrolyte and electrodes. As an important ionic conductor, the poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA)–KOH gel polymer electrolyte (GPE) has been widely utilized in FZABs. To date, most studies have focused on investigations of the electrode, electrocatalyst materials and battery configuration, while very few have paid attention to the influence of the environment on the electrolyte and the corresponding FZAB performance. Herein, for the first time, the environmental stability of PVA–KOH GPE, such as dimensional stability and water and ionic conductivity retention capability, for FZABs in ambient air has been thoroughly studied. Moreover, the properties of the assembled FZABs in terms of cycling stability, discharge performance and power output are investigated. This report aims to play a leading role in examining the environmental stability of electrolytes in FZABs, which is critical for their practical applications.

Keywords: Poly(vinyl alcohol), KOH, Gel polymer electrolyte, environmental stability, flexible zinc–air batteries

Received: 01 Jun 2019; Accepted: 30 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Fan, Liu, Ding, Deng, Han, Hu and Zhong. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Cheng Zhong, Tianjin University, Tianjin, 300072, Tianjin, China, cheng.zhong@tju.edu.cn