A novel low-cost nanoporous polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)/silica composite separator has been prepared and evaluated for its use in an all-vanadium redox flow battery (VRB). The separator consists of silica particles enmeshed in a PTFE fibril matrix. It possesses unique nanoporous structures with an average pore size of 38 nm and a porosity of 48%. These pores function as the ion transport channels during redox flow battery operation. This separator provides excellent electrochemical performance in the mixed-acid VRB system. The VRB using this separator delivers impressive energy efficiency, rate capability, and temperature tolerance. In additon, the flow cell using the novel separator also demonstrates an exceptional capacity retention capability over extended cycling, thus offering excellent stability for long-term operation. The characteristics of low cost, excellent electrochemical performance and proven chemical stability afford the PTFE/silica nanoporous separator great potential as a substitute for the Nafion membrane used in VRB applications.
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