Rational Design of Bifunctional Electrocatalysts for Rechargeable Metal–Air Batteries

Cheng Zhu | 19-FS-041


Rechargeable metal–air batteries show tremendous promise for safe, low cost, and high storage capacity. However, their energy-delivery performance suffers from sluggish kinetics of oxygen reduction and evolution reactions (ORR/OER). Despite significant progress to improve their intrinsic catalytic activity for better energy storage efficiency, little research has focused on their low extrinsic activity at large current density and under static device operation conditions.

We designed, fabricated, and optimized a high-loading, architected air cathode for aqueous zinc–air batteries by combining tailored nanostructure synthesis, mesoscale fabrication, structural modeling and optimization, as well as advanced characterization. By integrating these efforts and, consequently, reducing iteration cycles, we accelerated the discovery, fundamental understanding, and product realization of advanced oxygen electrocatalysts. The large current density of ORR/OER under static condition demonstrates this 3D printed electrode shows promise in zinc–air batteries in practical operation conditions.

Impact on Mission

The project's goal of improving metal–air battery techniques to safely and effectively deliver clean energy supports Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s mission focus area of energy and climate security. In addition, the research efforts enhance the Laboratory’s core competencies in advanced materials and manufacturing as well as high performance computing, simulation, and data science. The work will also enhance the leadership of the Laboratory in the advanced manufacturing and energy storage areas and support Department of Energy initiatives for advanced battery and energy storage research.