Improved nonaqueous electrolytes for application in electrical storage devices such as electrochemical capacitors or batteries are disclosed. The electrolytes of the invention contain salts consisting of alkyl substituted, cyclic delocalized aromatic cations, and their perfluoro derivatives, and certain polyatomic anions having a van der Waals volume less than or equal to 100 .ANG..sup.3, preferably inorganic perfluoride anions and most preferably PF.sub.6.sup.-, the salts being dissolved in organic liquids, and preferably alkyl carbonate solvents, or liquid sulfur dioxide or combinations thereof, at a concentration of greater than 0.5M and preferably greater than 1.0M. Exemplary electrolytes comprise 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium hexafluorophosphate dissolved in a cyclic or acylic alkyl carbonate, or methyl formate, or a combination therof. These improved electrolytes have useful characteristics such as higher conductivity, higher concentration, higher energy storage capabilities, and higher power characteristics compared to prior art electrolytes. Stacked capacitor cells using electrolytes of the invention permit high energy, high voltage storage.
Part of the work leading to this invention was carried out with United States government support provided under Department of Defense contracts F33615-94-C-2469 and Department of Energy contract FG02-96ER82149. Therefore the U.S. government has certain rights in this invention.