Yongil Kim, Jae-Kwang Kim, Christoph Vaalma, Geun Hyeong Bae, Guk-Tae Kim, Stefano Passerini and Youngsik Kim
Carbon, 2018, 129, 564-571 (Website link)
The recently introduced seawater battery concept is an eco-friendly energy storage system that offers appealing electrochemical performance. Its radically innovative design, compared to conventional lithium-ion batteries, makes use of seawater as an almost infinite sodium reservoir for the positive electrode and, thereby, avoids the use of expensive, scarce, and toxic elements like nickel and cobalt. So far, the problems identified mostly originate from the available negative electrode active materials. In this study, a starch-derived hard carbon was used to optimize the system. Due to its improved disordered structure compared with commercial hard carbon, the starch hard carbon exhibits an increased reversible capacity, current-rate capability, and cycling ability. The material, in fact, depicts a high maximum power density of 700 W kg -1 (based on hard carbon weight) upon discharge at 900 mA g-1, while still being active at 2700 mA g-1. These results represent an important step toward practical application of the sodium-based seawater battery technology.