September 26, 2023

Safe Electrolytes for Batteries


The demand for reliable and safe lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) for electric vehicles (EVs) and energy storage systems (ESS) necessitates the exploration of nonflammable phosphorus-based electrolytes as alternatives to the traditional flammable carbonate-based ones. However, integrating phosphorus-based electrolyte poses challenges, including capacity fading and compatibility issues with graphite material. Here, a high-throughput (HTP) electrochemical characterization method, similar to PH test paper, is introduced to fast screen compatible phosphorus-based electrolyte for use with graphite. Among 1,740 combinations of phosphorus-based electrolytes and graphite materials, 101 promising combinations are identified for further evaluation. These identified phosphorus-based electrolytes and graphite materials are evaluated and optimized in Li/Graphite half-cells and Graphite/LiFePO4 (LFP) full-cells using commercial-level electrodes. The desolvation energy of a complex with one Li+ and four solvent molecules of phosphate or carbonate is calculated by density functional theory (DFT). Key parameters such as viscosity, ionic conductivity, and flammability of the electrolytes are thoroughly tested and optimized. The modified phosphate-dominant electrolyte (2 M LiFSI TEP/DME/EC (6/2/2, volume ratio) + 5 wt.% VEC + 5 wt.% FEC) demonstrates excellent thermal stability with lithiated graphite and showcases superior cycling performance in the Graphite/LFP full cell, surpassing prior research findings in phosphate-dominant electrolytes. By the rapid HTP screening and identification of compatible electrolyte-graphite combinations, this approach contributes to expediting the development of safer LIBs for EVs and ESS.

Published: September 26, 2023


Wu B., W.A. Martin, and R. Feng. 2023. Safe Electrolytes for Batteries Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

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