Over the last two decades, the approaches to develop a more powerful, cost-effective battery solution have mainly related to better battery chemistry. However, none of these approaches have yet to completely transform battery performance. New battery cell structure design that incorporates smart 3D electrodes is the game-changing component to addressing that challenge and moving towards a more physical approach will change the future of battery performance.
The battery industry needs to move to customizable 3D electrodes as cell architecture improves battery performance and multiple parameters, including higher energy density, faster charging times and extended lifetime. There are many reasons why the industry should adopt new battery design and move to smart 3D electrodes, and in this article we’ll discuss the 3 most significant ones.
3 Reasons why Physics is the Future of Battery Chemistry
1. The advantages of new battery design in terms of performance
High energy density A 3D electrode enables significantly higher active material loading that can currently be achieved by using conventional electrodes leading to increase in both gravimetric and volumetric energy densities.
Comparison between conventional foil (black) and Addionics foil (green) 3D silicon-based anodes demonstrated more than triple loading of the active material
Lower internal resistance Lower internal resistance allows faster charging and discharging of the battery. 3D battery structures have lower internal resistance thanks to the homogeneous distribution of pores and materials through the electrode. Addionics’ porous metal structures enable lithium ions to move between the layers of electrodes across the whole battery cell. Moreover, in existing 2D structures, heat is generated at the interface between metal and active material, creating a gradient within the electrode with higher temperatures as you move closer to the metal. With 3D structures, the interface between metal and active material occurs throughout the entire electrode leading to more consistent temperature distribution within the cell.
50% reduction of internal resistance demonstrated in the first Addionics (green) pouch cell prototype (Graphite and NMC 622) compared to Cu Foil (black)
A serious issue for both manufacturers and users is battery degradation and failure. From thermal runaway to reducing dendrite formation to handling shrinking and expansion, 3D battery structures mitigate these risks to allow for a mechanically more stable battery thanks to the metal framework that integrates the active material in it by creating a monolithic structure and reducing layers separation.
The 3D structure allows homogeneous temperature distribution throughout the electrodes. This provides optimized heat dissipation inside the battery, therefore reducing battery degradation rate.
2. Benefits for emerging and existing chemistries
Silicon Whilst silicon is a very active material that provides considerably high energy, it undergoes volume expansion and shrinkage while charging and discharging, limiting performance and battery life. This results in higher degradation rate that has led to a slower commercial adoption. Using 3D electrodes can mitigate this swelling by accommodating its expansion within a metal framework.
Silicon swelling simulation captured by Addionics 3D structure
Solid-state With its ability to achieve high energy density and increased safety, solid-state batteries have been championed as the holy grail of battery technology. However, the technology has recently fallen short in practice. Today, companies are struggling to adopt solid-state batteries as they are trying to use thick cathodes which are unstable and prone to higher degradation. Our technology enables fabrication of energy density thick cathodes that are mechanically stable. Addionics smart 3D electrodes could therefore solve one of the most significant drawbacks of solid-state battery commercialization. Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) LFP batteries are much safer, have a longer lifetime and a lower price point. The downside of these batteries is the low energy density. By using 3D design, the amount of active material is increased whilst the inactive material is reduced. This increases the contact between the metal and active material, an essential aspect for high conductivity and performance improvements in these batteries.
3. Cost The market has currently been overlooking the next step change by heavily focusing on chemistry whilst physics has been overlooked. Synthesizing new chemistries has proven to be expensive and challenging in improving battery performance whilst new and improved battery structures can be a drop-in, faster-time-to-market solution. Focusing on chemistry alone will not allow the billions of dollars spent trying to improve batteries to be revolutionary but will instead show incremental improvements. Indeed, a cost-effective, scalable and sustainable manufacturing process to develop these 3D structures had not been found until lately. Now that the cost of batteries using 3D electrodes will hit the automotive market targeted price, it's only obvious to implement them to improve battery performance.
Addionics Smart 3D Electrodes
Addionics’ unique technology and manufacturing process develops smart 3D electrodes at a lower cost while providing significantly improved battery performance. The aim is for these batteries to be mass-produced and adaptable to different formats and industries so they can be implemented in a wide range of markets, from vehicles to energy storage to consumer electronics and more.