Analytical toolkit for the optimization of battery electrode materials

Modern batteries like lithium-ion have revolutionized our day-to-day lives from smart mobile devices to pollution free electric cars and intelligent power management solutions. Batteries also hold the potential to being economical alternatives for mass energy storage to compliment renewable energy resources for power grid applications. Despite these successes, gaps in the battery technology remain in terms of safety as well as performance. Equally important is the cost reduction for their mass scale adoption in applications like electric vehicles. These core issues are driving not only the research in new battery materials, but also the improvement in production efficiency to minimize production costs. The imminent issue of rising pollution levels in large cities has generated a great amount of interest in electric vehicles across the globe, making it the main driver for the development of improved battery technology in terms of superior mileage, faster charging time, better safety, and at the same time at a reduced cost. The battery market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of >10% over the next 10 years, primarily driven by the electrification of the transport sector. At the same time, new breakthrough technologies are expected to be commercialized which will boost the energy efficiency, power density and the safety of the rechargeable batteries.

Electrodes used in lithium-ion batteries have a defining influence on their electrochemical performance and are typically manufactured by coating a metal foil substrate with a multi-component slurry made of active electrode particles and conductive additives suspended in a binder solution. Size and shape distribution of electrode particles influences not only the rheology of this slurry in terms of its stability and ease of application, but also defines the quality parameters of the resulting coat like thickness uniformity, packing density and porosity. These, in turn, impact key battery performance parameters, such as ion transfer rate and battery recharge time.

This whitepaper provides an overview of how measurements of various parameters can help to optimize the properties of the slurries used to create electrodes for lithium-ion batteries. A key focus are the electrode materials that influence the performance of the manufactured battery cells. It describes the analytical techniques that support the optimization of these materials in research phase as well as in the quality control phase during the production process.

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