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Using Amines and Alkanes as Thermal-Runaway Retardants for Lithium-Ion Battery


Thermal runaway imposes major challenges to large-scale lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). The working temperature of a LIB is usually around room temperature. However, upon mechanical abuse such as an impact or nail penetration, LIB cell components may fail and internal short circuits could be formed. As a result, a series of exothermic electrochemical reactions and decompositions would take place and the local temperature can rapidly increase.

In this thesis, a few novel techniques are investigated to mitigate thermal runaway of LIBs. Mechanically triggered approach has been employed. Thermal-runaway retardant (TRR) is encapsulated in mechanically responsive packages made of materials inert to the battery environment, and upon external mechanical loadings the packages can be broken apart and release the TRR. This mechanism allows for the use of aggressive chemicals to suppress the short circuit discharge and reduce the subsequent exothermic phenomena, immediately after the battery is damaged even before temperature increase begins.

The best TRR candidates are identified to be amines and alkanes. Among amines, secondary amines and tertiary amines perform better than primary amines. The reduction in electrolyte ionic conductivity and the displacement of electrolyte are the thermal-runaway-mitigation mechanisms of the secondary and the tertiary amines, respectively. Pentadecane is the best candidate among the alkanes under investigation, with the major working mechanism being electrolyte displacement. Impact tests on large pouch cells and high-energy battery chemistry were also performed; the results were quite encouraging.

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