Redox flow batteries (RFBs) are promising candidates for grid storage, and while some large-scale installations exist, current systems have not met the stringent cost and/or safety requirements needed for widespread implementation. Replacing vanadium with organic compounds may lower materials costs, and less corrosive electrolytes may lead to safer devices. Furthermore, utilizing non-aqueous (aprotic) electrolyte solvents, in place of water, could enable a 2- to 3-fold increase in operating voltage. These features make non-aqueous RFBs attractive candidates for large-scale stationary storage. A limited number of organic compounds have been reported as stable electron donors and acceptors, with even fewer materials being studied as small-molecule two-electron donors and/or two-electron acceptors. Prof Odom and her group’s recent efforts in non-aqueous RFBs have focused on the development of highly soluble electron donors and acceptors with stable oxidized and reduced states. This presentation will focus on design strategies utilized to increase solubility as well as molecular stability in all relevant states of charge, as well as routes to increase cell potential. In particular, Prof Odom will highlight the design, synthesis, and electrochemical analysis of phenothiazine and naphthoquinone derivatives. Their results show that the tactical placement of substituents leads to improved stability of doubly oxidized and doubly reduced species, whilst retaining atom economy and high solubility.
About the Speaker
Susan Odom is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky, the same institution from which she obtained a B.S. in Chemistry in 2003. She received a Ph.D. from Georgia Institute of Technology under the guidance of Prof. Seth Marder and Dr. Stephen Barlow, working on bis- and tris- triarylamine derivatives and their radical cations as mixed-valent species. Prof. Odom joined the chemistry department at the University of Kentucky in 2011 after a position as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign under the guidance of Prof. Jeffrey Moore. Her professional interests include research in organic and materials chemistry for energy storage applications. Her initial focus included redox shuttles for overcharge protection of lithium-ion batteries. More recently, her research scope expanded to include redox-active organic materials for non-aqueous redox flow batteries. She is currently also a visiting scholar in the Brushett (MIT) and Aziz (Harvard) laboratories where she is working on fabricating a prototype non-aqueous flow battery and evaluating new organic compounds in aqueous electrolytes, respectively. Outside of research, Prof. Odom is involved in educational and outreach activities, and is serving in her second year as a co-organizer of the Expanding Your Horizons Conference at the University of Kentucky.