In this paper we report the electrochemical characterization of mixtures of ball-milled lithium nitride and iron metal. Several samples were prepared with different lithium nitride to iron molar ratios. X-ray diffraction (XRD) spectra showed the presence of iron metal in all the samples and β-lithium nitride in the samples with higher Li3N/Fe ratio. No evidence of other phases was detected. The milled powders were used to prepare composite cathodes for the electrochemical characterization. It was found that lithium can be extracted from the materials at a flat potential of 1.2 V vs. Li. The sample with Li3N/Fe molar ratio 8:1 showed the highest specific capacity (1125 mAh g-1) corresponding to the extraction of 1.8 Li equivalents per mole of lithium nitride. Only a fraction of the lithium extracted was re-inserted in the following discharge cycle. A drastic reduction of the capacity was observed for all the samples on further cycling. An enhancement of the cyclability was obtained by lowering the end-charge voltage that resulted in a reduction of the lithium extracted. The lithium extraction/insertion process was characterized by a large voltage difference indicating that the reaction is largely irreversible. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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