Since its verification in just 2019, there have been numerous high-profile papers reporting improved efficiency of the lithium-mediated electrochemical nitrogen reduction system to make ammonia. However, the literature lacks a cohesive investigation systematically linking bulk electrolyte properties to electrochemical performance and Solid Electrolyte Interphase (SEI) properties. In this study, we vary electrolyte salt concentration and observe a transition from an unstable working electrode potential to working electrode potential stability and peak in Faradaic efficiency of 7.8 ± 0.5 % at 0.6 M LiClO4. The behaviour is linked to the formation of Solvent Separated Ion Pairs in the electrolyte through Raman spectroscopy. Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry and X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy reveal a more inorganic, and therefore more stable, SEI layer with increasing salt concentration. A drop in Faradaic efficiency is seen at concentrations higher than 0.6 M LiClO4, which is attributed to a combination of a loss in nitrogen solubility and diffusivity as well as increased SEI conductivity as measured by Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy.
The Role of Ion Solvation in Lithium Mediated Nitrogen Reduction: Supplementary Information