Effect of charging protocol and carbon electrode selection in Na–O2 batteries
Nonaqueous sodium- and lithium-oxygen batteries are of interest because of their high theoretical specific energies relative to state-of-the-art Li-ion batteries. However, several challenges limit rechargeability, including instability of the carbon electrode and electrolyte with reactive oxygen species formed during cycling. This work investigates strategies to improve the cycling efficiency of the Na–O2 system and minimize irreversible degradation of electrolyte and electrode materials. We show that charging cells with a constant current/constant voltage (CCCV) protocol is a promising technique made possible by the slight solubility of sodium superoxide in nonaqueous electrolytes. In addition, the type of carbon electrode has a significant impact on cell performance and efficacy of the cycling protocol. Graphitic carbon electrodes coupled with CCCV charging demonstrate higher reversibility, more efficient oxygen evolution, and less outgassing than conventional cells using a porous carbon paper electrode and only a constant current charge.