Electrolyte compositions comprising a) an ionic liquid and b) a protic acid and/or an organic solvent are suitable for use in electrochemical cells, e.g. metal hydride batteries. The electrolyte compositions may replace the currently employed 30% by weight aqueous KOH. Suitable protic acids include carboxylic acids, mineral acids, sulfonic acids and the like. Suitable organic solvents include organic carbonates, ethers, glymes, ortho esters, polyalkylene glycols, esters, lactones, glycols, formates, sulfones, sulfoxides, amides, alcohols, ketones, nitro solvents, nitrile solvents and combinations thereof. Present batteries may achieve a nominal open-circuit voltage of >1.2 V (volts) and up to about 6 V. The electrolyte compositions allow enlargement of the electrochemical window, thus allowing the use of further cathode active materials. Further cathode active materials include transition metals and their oxides, hydroxides and fluorides; for example, Sc, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Y, Zr, Nb, Mo, Tc, Ru, Rh, Pd, Ag, Cd, Lu, Hf, Ta, W, Re, Os, Ir, Pt and Au and their oxides, hydroxides, oxide/hydroxides and fluorides.
GOVERNMENT SUPPORT STATEMENT
 This invention was made with government support under DE-AR0000386 awarded by Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.