Purdue University Graduate School
2023.05.30-Xiaoting Fang Dissertation.pdf (5.73 MB)

Organic redox-active materials design for redox flow batteries

Download (5.73 MB)
posted on 2023-05-30, 13:15 authored by Xiaoting FangXiaoting Fang


Nowadays, clean and renewable energy sources like wind and solar power have been rapidly growing for the goal of phasing out traditional fossil fuels, achieving carbon neutrality, and realizing sustainable development. Long-duration and large-scale energy storage is needed to address the intermittent nature of these sources. Especially, redox flow battery (RFB) is an attractive energy storage device for large scale applications because of its high scalability, design flexibility, and intrinsic safety. The all vanadium redox flow battery stands for the state-of-the-art system, but the high vanadium cost and limited energy density are among the limiting factors for wide commercialization. Therefore, it is necessary to develop new RFB materials that are cost-effective and highly soluble. Organic redox-active molecules (redoxmers) hold great potential to satisfy these requirements due to structural diversity, tunable chemical and electrochemical properties, and earth-abundant sources. With rational structural design, organic redoxmers can show favorable properties such as high solubility, suitable redox potential, and good chemical stability. However, current efforts are mainly on the development of anolyte redoxmers, e.g. phenazine, anthraquinone and viologen. Only limited types of catholyte candidates have been reported such as ferrocene and TEMPO. The major reason for such slow-paced progress is the limited chemical stability of these catholyte redoxmers. To bridge this critical gap, my efforts are focused mainly on the design and development of promising catholyte redoxmers for both aqueous organic (AORFBs) and non-aqueous organic redox flow batteries (NRFBs).

Phenoxazine functionalized with a hydrophilic tetraalkylammonium group demonstrates good water solubility and suitable redox potential. Cyclic voltammograms (CV) and flow cell testing were used to evaluate the electrochemical properties and battery performance, respectively. Besides, the battery fading mechanism was systematically investigated by CV, liquid chromatography mass spectra (LC-MS) and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy. The redoxmer decomposition mechanism analysis will benefit future redoxmer development by guiding the molecular design of more stable structure candidates. 

A structural design strategy for the development of novel TMPD-based (tetramethyl-p-phenylenediamine) catholyte redoxmers for NORFBs is presented. Two categories of functional groups, including oligo(ethylene glycol) (EG) either chains and phenyl rings, were incorporated into the TMPD core to improve solubility and stability in non-aqueous electrolytes, respectively. EPR characterization and bulk electrolyte (BE) analysis were carried out to evaluate the redoxmers stability. In addition, DFT studies were conducted to understand the impacts of functional groups on redox potential and chemical stability. The present work demonstrates the feasibility of constructing promising redoxmers from TMPD and provides insights into molecular designing of catholytes to achieve high solubility and excellent stability for non-aqueous redox flow batteries.


National Science Foundation (Award No. CHE-2055222)


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Mechanical Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Xiaoliang Wei

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Kejie Zhao

Additional Committee Member 2

Partha P. Mukherjee

Additional Committee Member 3

E. Birgit Kaufmann

Additional Committee Member 4

Lu Zhang

Usage metrics



    Ref. manager