Elemental composition analysis of LiFePO₄ cathode materials using XRF

LiFePO4, normally referred to as LFP, is a major cathode material used by lithium-ion battery industry. LFP has its advantage in superior safety and lower material cost compared to other popular chemistries like NMC (LiNixMnyCo1-x-yO2). Though LFP has lower energy density than NMC, this gap is diminishing fast with new battery manufacturing and assembling techniques, like Cell to Pack (CTP) and blade battery designs.

There are several approaches for the manufacturing of LFP, such as high-temperature solid-state fusion of FePO4 precursor with Li2CO3, co-precipitation of LiFePO4 precursor followed with high-temperature sintering, carbothermal reduction of Li, P and Fe precursors, and hydrothermal synthesis. Each approach has its own pros and cons in the process and the final product quality control. Whatever is the manufacturing method, a strict control on the molar ratios of the raw materials and the elemental composition of the final product is critical to the performance of the assembled battery.

X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy, with its advantage of high stability and simple sample preparation, is an ideal technique to analyze major elements (except Li) in LFP cathode manufacturing, from raw material to the final product. A study is shown in this report as an example.

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