Potassium fluoride and carbonate lead to immediate cell failure in potassium-ion batteries



While Li-ion is the prevailing commercial battery chemistry, development of batteries using earth abundant alkali metals (e.g., Na and K) alleviates reliance on Li with potentially cheaper technologies. While electrolyte engineering has been a major thrust of Li-ion battery (LIB) research, it is unclear if the same electrolyte design principles apply to K-ion batteries (KIBs). Fluoroethylene carbonate (FEC) is a well-known additive used in Li-ion electrolytes, because the products of its sacrificial decomposition aid in forming a stable solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) on the anode surface. Here, we show that FEC addition to KIBs containing hard carbon anodes results in a dramatic decrease in capacity and cell failure in only two cycles, whereas capacity retention remains high (> 90% over 80 cycles at C/10 for both KPF6 and KFSI) for electrolytes that do not contain FEC. Using a combination of 19F solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (SSNMR) spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), we show that FEC decomposes during galvanostatic cycling to form insoluble KF and K2CO3 on the anode surface, which correlate with increased interfacial resistance. Our results strongly suggest KIB performance is sensitive to accumulation of an inorganic SEI, likely due to sluggish K diffusion in these compounds. This mechanism of FEC decomposition was confirmed in two separate electrolyte formulations using KPF6 or KFSI. Interestingly, the salt anions do not decompose themselves, unlike their Li analogues. Insight from these results indicates that electrolyte decomposition pathways and favorable SEI components are significantly different in KIBs and LIBs, suggesting that entirely new approaches to KIB electrolyte engineering are needed.


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Supporting Information
Supporting information for "Potassium fluoride and carbonate lead to immediate cell failure in potassium-ion batteries"