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The cathones have it, the cathones have it!

27 April 2019 - Battery life

The list of citations of Professor Jun Chen (ORCID) has a clear theme: that of batteries! Name a compound and apply it in a battery somehow be it carbon monoxide, manganese hydroperoxide, nanotubes or benzoquinone. A recent publication concerns cyclohexanehexone as target compound, for use as cathode in a lithium-ion battery.(Yong Lu et al. DOI) And why this particular compound? Organics in batteries have the low-cost / friendly-to-the-environment benefit. In addition, it is already known that compounds carrying ketone groups (for example 1,4-benzoquinone) can play the cathode game. The trick is to get all potential sites active. Hence cyclohexanehexone (C6O6) which is all carbonyl and nothing else. Results: specific energy of 1533 Watt-hour per kilogram, the largest value ever for an organic cathode, according to the authors. Is that a lot? The Wikipedia page on specific energy has an amusing table mentioning a zinc-air battery at 400 Wh/Kg, well above a 100 meter column of water in a dam (0.2 Wh/Kg) but also well below antimatter (24 trillion Wh/Kg). Added advantages: C6O6 resists dissolving in the electrolyte, it can withstand at least one hundred cycles. Major hurdle to overcome, it's love of water. Readers are reminded that the Wikipedia page denies that the compound exists. The Mighty Internet did not offer any further clues. It was nevertheless synthesised from the octahydrate (cyclohexane with 12 hydroxyl groups) in vacuum @ 180°C @ 12 hours, too easily? Product confirmation was based on carbon NMR and IR, pretty decent in all. The work also included some modelling of the redox cycle in which C6O6 forms C6O6Li6.