Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs), rechargeable batteries that store energy through the reversible reduction of lithium ions, are used to power countless devices and technologies, from laptops and smartphones to electric cars. While LIBs have many advantages over other battery technologies, their current energy densities limit the distances that electric vehicles can travel before they need to be recharged.
Studies have shown that the formation of solid electrolyte interphase (SEI), a layer formed by the anode inside battery cells, can consume large amounts of lithium ions. This has a detrimental effect on the initial Coulombic efficiency (the efficiency with which electrons are transferred to batteries before their first cycle), which reduces the energy density of the battery.
A strategy that helps to counteract this effect, which reduces the loss of active lithium inside LIBs and thus increases their energy density, is prelithiation. This strategy mainly consists of pre-treating the electrodes, adding lithium to the battery cell before its first cycle of operation.
Researchers at Tsinghua University recently introduced a promising method to perform the prelithiation of anodes for LIBs on a large scale. Their prelithiation strategy, introduced in Natural Energybased on transfer printing, a method of printing patterns onto an intermediate medium to apply them to the final substrate or material.
“A cost-effective prelithiation strategy with high quality and high industrial applicability is urgently needed,” Cheng Yang, Huachun Ma and their colleagues wrote in their paper. “We have developed a roll-to-roll electrodeposition and transfer-printing system for continuous prelithiation of LIB anodes. Through roll-to-roll calendering, pre-manufactured anodes can be fully transfer-printed onto electrodeposited lithium metal . Interface separation and adhesion during transfer printing are related to interfacial shear and compressive stress, respectively.”
The researchers tested their method by running a series of simulations and electrochemical tests. They found that it worked very well, as it improved the initial Coulombic efficiencies of graphite-based and silicon/carbon-based electrodes for LIBs, raising them to almost 100%.
Notably, in addition to enabling these high initial Coulombic efficiencies, the team’s approach improves the stability of the SEI films produced on the anodes. Yang, Ma and their colleagues found that when combined with NMC and LFP cathodes, two of the commonly used cathodes for LIBs, prelithiated electrodes can increase the energy density of fuel cells.
“With quick transfer-printing prelithiation, high initial Coulombic efficiencies of 99.99% and 99.05% were achieved in graphite and silicon/carbon composite electrode half cells, respectively,” Yang, Ma and their colleagues wrote their paper. “The initial Coulombic efficiencies and energy densities of full cells were found to be significantly improved with prelithiated electrodes. Roll-to-roll transfer printing provides a high-performance, controlled, scalable and industrially-adaptable prelithiation of LIBs.”
The transfer printing strategy introduced by Yang, Ma and their colleagues has already achieved very promising results, suggesting that it may eventually enable large-scale and reliable prelithiation of electrodes for LIBs. Their paper will soon inspire other research teams to develop similar methods aimed at increasing the energy density of LIBs. Collectively, these approaches can facilitate the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.
Cheng Yang et al, Roll-to-roll prelithiation of lithium-ion battery anodes by transfer printing, Natural Energy (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41560-023-01272-1.
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Citation: A scalable method of prelithiate anodes for lithium-ion batteries (2023, July 12) retrieved 13 July 2023 from https://techxplore.com/news/2023-07-scalable-method-prelithiate-anodes- lithium-ion.html
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