Materials Compositions for Lithium Ion Batteries with Extended Thermal Stability
Ajayan, Pulickel M
Doctor of Philosophy
Advancements in portable electronics have generated a pronounced demand for rechargeable energy storage devices with superior capacity and reliability. Lithium ion batteries (LIBs) have evolved as the primary choice of portable power for several such applications. While multiple variations have been developed, safety concerns of commercial technologies limit them to atmospheric temperature operability. With several niche markets such as aerospace, defense and oil & gas demanding energy storage at elevated temperatures, there is a renewed interest in developing rechargeable batteries that could survive temperatures beyond 100oC. Instability of critical battery components towards extreme thermal and electrochemical conditions limit their usability at high temperatures. This study deals with developing material configurations for LIB components to stabilize them at such temperatures. Flammable organic solvent based electrolytes and low melting polymer based separators have been identified as the primary bottleneck for LIBs to survive increasing temperature. Furthermore, thermally activated degradation processes in oxide based electrodes have been identified as the reason for their limited lifetime. A quasi-solid composite comprising of room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) and Clay was developed as an electrolyte/separator hybrid and tested to be stable up to 120oC. These composites facilitate complete reversible Li intercalation in lithium titanate (LTO) with a stable capacity of 120 mAh g-1 for several cycles of charge and discharge while simultaneously resisting severe thermal conditions. Modified phosphate based electrodes were introduced as a reliable alternative for operability at high temperatures in this study. These systems were shown to deliver stable reversible capacity for numerous charge/discharge cycles at elevated temperatures. Higher lithium intercalation potential of the developed cathode materials makes them interesting candidates for high voltage lithium batteries, which may be dubbed as the next generation devices. Architectural engineering of battery components to amplify the device performance is also discussed. 3D electrode structures developed using CVD and electrodeposition techniques demonstrated significant enhancement in performance when compared to their 2D analogues. The study has established the prospects of LIBs at high temperatures through material tuning and engineering approaches and envisage a scope for viable devices.