Swelling of lignin-based gel in salt-containing organic solvents and its application as gel electrolyteFumiya Honda, Shogo Taira, Shiori Suzuki, Kazuhiro Shikinaka, Kengo Shigetomi, Yasumitsu Uraki
A lignin-based gel prepared by the chemical crosslinking of hardwood acetic acid lignin (AL) with poly(ethylene glycol) diglycidyl ether has been reported to shrink in water and organic solvents but swell specifically in aqueous binary solutions. In this study, the AL-based gel was also found to swell in lithium-salt-containing organic solvents, namely, liquid electrolytes. The uptake of salt solutions reached five times the dry weight of the gel. The ionic conductivity of the gel swollen with 1 M LiBF4 in propylene carbonate or a mixed solution (1:1, v/v) of ethylene carbonate and dimethyl carbonate exceeded 1 mS cm−1 at room temperature (25 °C), suggesting that this gel can be applied as a gel electrolyte for lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). A prototype LIB was assembled with the AL-based gel electrolyte and LiCoO2/graphite-based electrodes and exhibited low bulk and charge transfer resistances of 4.1 and 9.7 Ω, respectively. Moreover, its initial specific capacity reached 104 mAh g−1 at a current density of 28 mA g−1, which is comparable to that of a reference LIB assembled using a commercial polyethylene separator. These results indicate the significant potential of this lignin-based gel for application in energy storage devices.