Year of Publication

2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Engineering

Department

Chemical and Materials Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Yang-Tse Cheng

Abstract

Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) have been widely used as the most popular rechargeable energy storage and power sources in today’s portable electronics, electric vehicles, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. LIBs have gained much interest worldwide in the last three decades because of their high energy density, voltage, rate of charge and discharge, reliability, and design flexibility. I am exploring the possibility of developing battery manufacturing technologies that would lower the cost, reduce the environmental impact, and increase cell performance and durability.

This dissertation is focused firstly on understanding the effect of mixing sequence (the order of introducing materials) and optimizing the electrode fabrication for the best electrochemical performance, durability, lower cost, and improve the existing manufacturing processes. The electrode system consists of active material, polymer binder, conductive agent, and solvent. I have investigated four different mixing sequences to prepare the slurries for making the positive electrode. The key sequence-related factor appears to be whether the active material and conductive agent are mixed in the presence of or prior to the introduction of the binder solution. The mixing sequences 1, 2, 3, and 4 were optimized, and the rheological behavior of the slurries, morphology, conductivity, and mechanical and electrochemical properties of electrodes were investigated. Slurries from sequences 1 and 4 show different rheological properties from 2 and 3. The amount of NMP required to achieve a comparable final slurry viscosity differed significantly for the sequences under study. The sequence 1 shows better long-term cycling behavior than sequences 2, 3 and 4. This study quantifies the link between electrode slurry mix parameters and electrode quality.

Secondly, a new method of making lithium-ion battery electrodes by adapting an immersion precipitation (IP) technology commonly used in membrane manufacturing was developed and demonstrated. The composition, structure, and electrochemical performance of the electrode made by the IP method were compared favorably with that made by the conventional method. The toxic and expensive organic solvent (NMP) was captured in coagulation bath instead of being released to the atmosphere. The IP electrodes show an excellent performance and durability at potentially lower cost and less environmental impact.

Thirdly, I have developed and demonstrated a solvent-free dry-powder coating process for making LiNi1/3Mn1/3Co1/3O2 (NMC) positive electrodes in lithium-ion batteries, and compared the performance and durability of electrodes made by the dry-powder coating processes with that by wet-slurry coating processes. The technology that has been used is the electrostatic spray deposition (ESD) process. This process eliminates volatile organic compound emission, reduces thermal curing time from hours to minutes, and offers high deposition rates onto large surfaces. The long-term cycling shows that the dry-powder coated electrodes have similar performance and durability as the conventional wet-slurry made electrodes.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/ETD.2017.296

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