Nuclear magnetic resonance studies of the solvation structures of a high-performance nonaqueous redox flow electrolyte

Xuchu Deng, Mary Hu, Xiaoliang Wei, Wei Wang, Karl T. Mueller, Zhong Chen, Jian Zhi Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Understanding the solvation structures of electrolytes is important for developing nonaqueous redox flow batteries that hold considerable potential for future large scale energy storage systems. The utilization of an emerging ionic-derivatived ferrocene compound, ferrocenylmethyl dimethyl ethyl ammonium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide (Fc1N112-TFSI), has recently overcome the issue of solubility in the supporting electrolyte. In this work, 13C, 1H and 17O NMR investigations were carried out using electrolyte solutions consisting of Fc1N112-TFSI as the solute and the mixed alkyl carbonate as the solvent. It was observed that the spectra of 13C experience changes of chemical shifts while those of 17O undergo linewidth broadening, indicating interactions between solute and solvent molecules. Quantum chemistry calculations of both molecular structures and chemical shifts (13C, 1H and 17O) are performed for interpreting experimental results and for understanding the detailed solvation structures. The results indicate that Fc1N112-TFSI is dissociated at varying degrees in mixed solvent depending on concentrations. At dilute solute concentrations, most Fc1N112+ and TFSI- are fully disassociated with their own solvation shells formed by solvent molecules. At saturated concentration, Fc1N112+-TFSI- contact ion pairs are formed and the solvent molecules are preferentially interacting with the Fc rings rather than interacting with the ionic pendant arm of Fc1N112-TFSI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-179
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Power Sources
StatePublished - Mar 15 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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