Retaining the 3D Framework of Zinc Sponge Anodes upon Deep Discharge in Zn–Air Cells

We fabricate three-dimensional zinc electrodes from emulsion-cast sponges of Zn powder that are thermally treated to produce rugged monoliths. This highly conductive, 3D-wired aperiodic scaffold achieves 740 mA h gZn–1 when discharged in primary Zn–air cells (>90% of theoretical Zn capacity). We use scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction to monitor the microstructural evolution of a series of Zn sponges when oxidized in Zn–air cells to specific depths-of-discharge (20, 40, 60, 80% DOD) at a technologically relevant rate (C/40; 4–6 mA cm–2). The Zn sponges maintain their 3D-monolithic form factor at all DOD. The cell resistance remains low under all test conditions, indicating that an inner core of metallic Zn persists that 3D-electrically wires the electrode, even to deep DOD.