The effect of water-containing electrolyte on lithium-sulfur batteries

Heng Liang Wu, Richard T. Haasch, Brian R. Perdue, Christopher A. Apblett, Andrew A. Gewirth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dissolved polysulfides, formed during Li-S battery operation, freely migrate and react with both the Li anode and the sulfur cathode. These soluble polysulfides shuttle between the anode and cathode – the so-called shuttle effect – resulting in an infinite recharge process and poor Columbic efficiency. In this study, water present as an additive in the Li-S battery electrolyte is found to reduce the shuttle effect in Li-S batteries. Batteries where water content was below 50 ppm exhibited a substantial shuttle effect and low charge capacity. Alternatively, addition of 250 ppm water led to stable charge/discharge behavior with high Coulombic efficiency. XPS results show that H2O addition results in the formation of solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) film with more LiOH on Li anode which protects the Li anode from the polysulfides. Batteries cycled without water result in a SEI film with more Li2CO3 likely formed by direct contact between the Li metal and the solvent. Intermediate quantities of H2O in the electrolyte result in high cycle efficiency for the first few cycles which then rapidly decays. This suggests that H2O is consumed during battery cycling, likely by interaction with freshly exposed Li metal formed during Li deposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-56
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Power Sources
StatePublished - 2017


  • Li-S batteries
  • SEI layer
  • Shuttle mechanism
  • Water additive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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