Biohybrid Polymer Electrodes for Renewable Energy Storage

Abstract: Daily and seasonally fluctuating energy supply and demand requires adequate energy storage solutions. In recent years electrochemical supercapacitors have attracted considerable attention due to their ability to both store and deliver electrical energy efficiently. Our efforts are focused on developing and optimizing sustainable organic electrode materials for supercapacitors based on renewable bioorganic materials, offering a cheap, environmentally friendly and scalable alternative to store energy. In particular, we are using the second most abundant biopolymer in nature, lignin (Lig), which is an insulating material. However, when used in combination with electroactive and conducting polymers such as polypyrrole (PPy) and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), the biohybrid electrodes PPy/Lig and PEDOT/Lig display significantly enhanced energy storage performance as compared to the pristine conducting polymers without the lignin. Redox cyclic voltammetry and galvanostatic charge/discharge measurements indicate that the enhanced performance is due to the additional pseudocapacitance generated by the quinone moieties in lignin. Moreover, a conjugated redoxpolymer poly(aminoanthraquinone) PAAQ, with intrinsic quinone functions and excellentstability, has been combined with lignin and PEDOT resulting in a trihybrid bioelectrode. PEDOT compensates the low conductivity of PAAQ and provides electrical pathways to the quinone groups. The electrochemically generated quinones undergo a two electron, two protonredox process within the biohybrid electrodes as revealed by FTIR spectroelectrochemistry.These remarkable features reveal the exciting potential of a full organic energy storage device with long cycle life. Therefore, supercapacitor devices were designed in symmetric or asymmetric two electrode configuration. The best electrochemical performance was achieved by the asymmetric supercapacitor based on PEDOT+Lignin/PAAQ as the positive electrode and PEDOT/PAAQ as the negative electrode. This device exhibits superior electrochemical performance and outstanding stability after 10000 charge/discharge cycles due to the synergistic effect of the two electrodes. Finally, we have characterized the response of this supercapacitor device when charged with the intermittent power supply from an organic photovoltaic module. We have designed charging/discharging conditions such that reserve power was available in the storage device at all times. This work has resulted in an inexpensive fully organic system witht he dual function of energy conversion and storage.