Li-air batteries have generated enormous interest as potential high specific energy alternatives to existing energy storage devices. However, Li-air batteries suffer from poor rechargeability caused by the instability of organic electrolytes and carbon cathodes. To understand and address this poor rechargeability, it is essential to elucidate the efficiency in which O2 is converted to Li2O2 (the desired discharge product) during discharge and the efficiency in which Li2O2 is oxidized back to O2 during charge. In this Letter, we combine many quantitative techniques, including a newly developed peroxide titration, to assign and quantify decomposition pathways occurring in cells employing a variety of solvents and cathodes. We find that Li2O2-induced electrolyte solvent and salt instabilities account for nearly all efficiency losses upon discharge, whereas both cathode and electrolyte instabilities are observed upon charge at high potentials.
Keywords: Li−air battery; cathode; decomposition; electrolyte; peroxide; titration.