A microelectrode-based sensor for measuring operando active species concentrations in redox flow cells

26 August 2021, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


The assessment of candidate materials for redox flow batteries requires effective diagnostic techniques for monitoring the evolution of electrolyte state of charge and state of health to interrogate time-dependent changes in system behavior. Further, such tools can be applied in practical embodiments to inform maintenance schedules and optimize energy utilization. In this work, we develop and test a flow-through, microelectrode-based electrochemical sensor to continuously measure active species concentrations in redox flow cells. A gold microelectrode (working electrode) and platinum wire (pseudo-reference electrode) are sealed into a stainless-steel fitting (counter electrode), and three-electrode electroanalytical techniques (i.e., voltammetry, chronoamperometry) are performed to correlate steady-state current to concentration. To validate transport and thermodynamics that govern the sensing mechanism, we combine multiphysics simulation with ex situ experimental testing, confirming the device is capable of accurately determining individual species concentrations. We then evaluate the microelectrode sensor in a symmetric redox flow cell, demonstrating the utility of this approach for measuring operando concentrations, and discuss additional considerations for successful implementation (e.g., measurement protocol, material selection, flow cell design). Assembled from commercially available, off-the-shelf components, the sensor can be readily adopted by research laboratories and integrated into existing experimental workflows, making it a promising tool for studying novel flow battery materials.


Redox flow batteries
Flow cells
Electrochemical sensors
Organic redox couples
State of charge
State of health

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Discusses methods and simulations in greater detail and provides additional figures and data.


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