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Investigation of dendrite formation for developing lithium-metal batteries

Investigation of dendrite formation for developing lithium-metal batteries

tech innovation 2022

a research team from Stanford University have investigated dendrite formation to further improve lithium-metal batteries.

Combining a novel mathematical modelEng physics and chemistry to develop Highly promising lithium-metal Batteries Is Presented Scientists with credible, fresh solutions to a problem that have previously caused degradation and failure.

This study was recently published in the Journal of electrochemical society,

Making a better, safer lithium-metal battery

At present, rechargeable lithium-ion cells are widely used in portable electronics and electric cars. In comparison, it has been observed that lithium-metal batteries hold tremendous promise as the next generation of energy storage devices. This is because, compared to lithium-ion devices, lithium-metal batteries hold more energy, charge faster, and weigh significantly less.

However, it has been observed by researchers that commercial use of rechargeable lithium-metal batteries has been limited. A primary explanation for this is the formation of ‘dendrites’, which are thin, metallic, tree-like structures that accumulate in the form of lithium metal at the electrodes inside the battery. This dendrite formation in batteries significantly reduces battery performance and ultimately leads to failure, which in some cases can even lead to a dangerous fire.

Approaching the dendrite problem from a theoretical point of view

Approaching the issue from a theoretical point of view meant that the research team developed a mathematical model that combined the physics and chemistry involved in dendrite formation.

This model provided insight into how swapping in new electrolytes – the medium through which lithium ions travel between two electrodes inside a battery – could slow or completely stop dendrite growth, with certain properties.

“Our study aims to help guide the design of lithium-metal batteries with a long life span,” explained Vu Li, lead author of the study and a PhD student in energy resource engineering. “Our mathematical framework accounts for the major chemical and physical processes in lithium-metal batteries on a suitable scale.”

Tchelepi, a co-author of the study and professor of energy resources engineering at the Stanford School of Earth, said, “This study provides some specific details about the conditions under which dendrites can form, as well as the potential to suppress their growth. also provide a way.” , Energy and Environmental Sciences.

Interpreting the results: Understanding the battery’s internal electric fields

Scientists have for decades attempted to understand the factors leading to the formation of dendrites. However, laboratory work is laborious, and interpreting the results of relevant experiments has proven difficult. To address this issue, the research team created a mathematical representation of the battery’s internal electric fields and the transport of lithium ions through the electrolyte material as well as other relevant mechanisms.

With the results of the study in hand, scientists can focus on physically plausible material and architectural combinations. “Our hope is that other researchers can use this guidance from our study to design devices that have the right properties and reduce the range of trial-and-error, experimental variations they have to do in the lab, Tchelepi said.

Innovative strategies that have emerged for electrolyte design involve materials that are anisotropic, meaning they exhibit different properties in different directions. A classic example of an anisotropic material is wood, which strengthens in the direction of the grain, appearing as lines in the wood, opposite the grain.

In the case of anisotropic electrolytes, these materials can correct the complex interplay between ion transport and interfacial chemistry, thwarting the build-up that advances dendrite formation. The researchers found that some liquid crystals and gels exhibit these desired characteristics.

Additionally, another approach identified by this study involves battery separators, which are membranes that prevent electrodes on opposite ends of the battery from touching and short-circuiting. Brand new types of separators can be designed that contain pores that cause lithium ions to move back and forth through the electrolyte in an anisotropic manner.

Manufacturing devices that rely on new electrolyte structures

The researchers are excited to consider and expand on the ‘leads’ identified in their study to other scientists. Those next steps will involve building actual devices that rely on experimental new electrolyte formulations and battery architectures, then testing that may prove effective, scalable and economical.

Co-author Tartakovsky, Professor of Energy Resources Engineering, said, “A considerable amount of research goes into materials design and experimental validation of complex battery systems, and in general, the mathematical framework led by Weiu goes to a great extent in this effort.” are missing.” in Stanford.

Following on from these latest results, Tartakovsky and colleagues are working on building a fully virtual representation of a lithium-metal battery system, or DABS – known as a ‘digital embodiment’.

Tartakovsky concluded, “This study is an important building block of DABS, a comprehensive ‘digital embodiment’ or replica of the lithium-metal battery that is being developed in our laboratory.” “With DABS, we will continue to advance the state of the art for these promising energy storage devices.”

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Investigation of dendrite formation for developing lithium-metal batteries

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