A HIGH PRECISION STUDY OF LI-ION BATTERIES
Undesired reactions in Li-ion batteries, which lead to capacity loss, can consume or produce charge at either the positive or negative electrode. For example, the formation and repair of the solid electrolyte interphase consumes Li+ and e- at the negative electrode. Electrolyte oxidation at the positive electrode allows extra electrons (with corresponding electrolyte decomposition products) to be extracted at the electrode compared to the number which could be extracted in the absence of electrolyte oxidation. High purity electrolytes, various electrolyte additives, electrode coatings and special electrode materials are known to improve cycle life and therefore must impact coulombic efficiency. Careful measurements of coulombic efficiency are needed to quantify the impact of different battery materials on cell life time in only a few charge-discharge cycles and in a relatively short time. In order to make an impact on Li-ion cells for automotive and energy storage applications, where thousands of charge-discharge cycles are required, coulombic efficiency must be measured to an accuracy and precision of at least 0.01%. An instrument designed to make high-precision coulombic efficiency measurements on Li ion batteries is described in this thesis. Such measurements can be used to detect the influence of different electrode materials, voltage ranges, cell temperature, etc. on the performance of a cell. The effects of cycle induced and time-related capacity loss can be probed using experiments carried out at different C-rates. Precision differential voltage and capacity measurements can also be used to identify the different failure mechanisms that occur in full cells.