Thermodynamic Origin of Reaction Non-Uniformity in Battery Porous Electrodes and Its Mitigation
Wang, Fan; Tang, Ming
The development of non-uniform reaction current distribution within porous electrodes is a ubiquitous phenomenon during battery charging/discharging and frequently controls the rate performance of battery cells. Reaction inhomogeneity in porous electrodes is usually attributed to the kinetic limitation of mass transport within the electrolyte and/or solid electrode phase. In this work, however, we reveal that it is also strongly influenced by the intrinsic thermodynamic behavior of electrode materials, specifically the dependence of the equilibrium potential on the state of charge: the electrode reaction becomes increasingly non-uniform when the slope of the equilibrium potential curve is reduced. We employ numerical simulations and equivalent circuit model to elucidate such a correlation and show that the degree of reaction inhomogeneity and the resultant discharge capacity can be predicted by a dimensionless reaction uniformity number. For electrode materials that have equilibrium potentials insensitive to the state of charge and exhibit significant reaction non-uniformity, we demonstrate several approaches to spatially homogenizing the reaction current inside porous electrodes, including matching the electronic and ionic resistances, introducing graded electronic conductivity and reducing the surface reaction kinetics.