Testing Battery Performance Using Thermal Wave Diagnostics

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Researchers figured out a fast, cost-effective and efficient way to test rechargeable lithium batteries’ performance concurrently during their operation.

Lithium batteries are gaining popularity in terms of research activities, and developing high-performance and long-life rechargeable lithium batteries has been an engineering goal for many years. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed an easy, fast, and inexpensive method to measure battery performance.

The research team was led by Ravi Prasher and Sean Lubner of the Energy Technologies Area. The researchers use thermal waves to measure local lithium concentration as a function of depth inside battery electrodes. The research appeared in the journal Joule

“With our technique, you take a battery, and you put the sensor on top of the battery,” Prasher said. “The sensor sends a signal, and depending on the signal frequency, you can change how deep the wave will penetrate. That way, you control the depth of penetration. It’s much cheaper and faster than other diagnostic procedures, and provides a cheap and faster way to measure battery characteristics.”

The technique works concurrently with the battery operation. According to the researchers, the thermal wave sensing provides spatial information of lithium concentration comparable to experimental results using synchrotron X-ray diffraction, but without having to use a large synchrotron facility such as the Advanced Light Source.

This technique can help develop faster charging batteries, as it is able to detect local states of charge and age at varying rates. “This work shows the strength of interdisciplinary science,” Lubner said. “The project combines techniques and insight from the thermal and electrochemistry communities in order to achieve a capability that would not have otherwise been possible.”

According to the researchers, the next step is to test this technique on commercial batteries. 


 

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