Highly Concentrated Electrolytes for Lithium Batteries - From fundamentals to cell tests
The electrolyte is a crucial part of any lithium battery, strongly affecting longevity and safety. It has to survive rather severe conditions, not the least at the electrode/electrolyte interfaces. Current commercial electrolytes based on 1 M LiPF 6 in a mixture of organic solvents balance the requirements on conductivity and electrochemical stability, but they are volatile and degrade when operated at temperatures above ca. 70°C. The salt could potentially be replaced with e.g. LiTFSI, but corrosion of the aluminium current collector is an issue. Replacing the graphite negative electrode by Li metal for large gains in energy density challenges the electrolyte further by exposing it to freshly deposited Li, leading to poor coulombic efﬁciency (CE) and consumption of both Li and electrolyte. Highly concentrated electrolytes (up to > 4 M) have emerged as a possible remedy, by a changed solvation structure such that all solvent molecules are coordinated to cations – leading to a lowered volatility and melting point, an increased charge carrier density and electrochemical stability, but a higher viscosity and a lower ionic conductivity.
Here two approaches to highly concentrated electrolytes are evaluated. First, LiTFSI and acetonitrile electrolytes with respect to increased electrochemical stability and in particular the passivating solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) on the anode is studied using electrochemical techniques and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Second, lowering the liquidus temperature by high salt concentration is utilized to create an electrolyte solely of LiTFSI and ethylene carbonate, tested for application in Li metal batteries by characterizing the morphology of plated Li using scanning electron microscopy and the CE by galvanostatic polarization. While the ﬁrst approach shows dramatic improvements, the inherent weaknesses cannot be completely avoided, the second approach provides some promising cycling results for Li metal based cells. This points towards further investigations of the SEI, and possibly long-term safe cycling of Li metal anodes.
Li metal battery
Highly concentrated electrolyte
Å2001, Ångströmlaboratoriet, Uppsala
Opponent: Erik Berg, Department of Chemistry – Ångström Laboratory, Uppsala University, Sweden