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Journal article Open Access

Membraneless energy conversion and storage using immiscible electrolyte solutions

Molina-Osorio, Andrés F.; Gamero-Quijano, Alonso; Peljo, Pekka; Scanlon, Micheál D.

Breakthrough alternative technologies are urgently required to alleviate the critical need to decarbonise our energy supply. We showcase non-conventional approaches to battery and solar energy conversion and storage (ECS) system design that harness key attributes of immiscible electrolyte solutions, especially the membraneless separation of redox active species and ability to electrify certain liquid-liquid interfaces. We critically evaluate the recent development of membraneless redox flow batteries based on biphasic systems, where one redox couple is confined to an immiscible ionic liquid or organic solvent phase, and the other couple to an aqueous phase. Common to all solar ECS devices are the abilities to harvest light, leading to photo-induced charge carrier separation, and separate the products of the photo-reaction, minimising recombination. We summarise recent progress towards achieving this accepted solar ECS design using immiscible electrolyte solutions in photo-ionic cells, to generate redox fuels, and biphasic “batch” water splitting, to generate solar fuels.

This publication has emanated from research by M.D.S. and A.F.M.-O. supported by the European Research Council through a Starting Grant (agreement no.716792) and in part by a research grant from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) (grant number 13/SIRG/2137). A.G.-Q. acknowledges funding received from an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship Award (grant number GOIPD/2018/252). P.P. gratefully acknowledges the Academy Research Fellow funding from the Academy of Finland (grant number 315739).
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