Is 3D Battery Design the Key to Improving Battery Lifetime?
As electrification continues to spread across the globe, the demand for batteries is constantly rising. Whether it’s for the car industry, power tools, drones, health or other means of transportation, the amount needed is growing exponentially. In today’s industry, a consistent struggle for battery manufacturers and users, especially when referring to high power and high energy technology, is battery lifetime. Therefore, battery makers must optimize this tradeoff to allow battery life to be sufficient without negatively impacting other performance aspects. To do so, manufacturers are finding solutions including optimizing battery chemistry, manufacturing processes, a better battery management system (BMS), and improved cooling.
However, improvement should also be coming from inside the cell at an electrode level. From heat management to mechanical stability, how can 3D battery design improve battery lifetime?
When a battery operates at elevated temperatures, it starts to degrade as the internal heat can damage the battery. For example, this can cause hot spots, which is an uneven local temperature. This will have a negative impact on both battery lifetime and safety. Better heat dissipating technology reduces this risk and improves battery lifetime while allowing the battery to operate at higher currents, which is needed for a high power application and fast charging.
Batteries with a 3D architecture have a more homogeneous temperature distribution throughout the electrodes. This provides more uniform heat dissipation in the battery, which in turn reduces battery degradation rate. Additionally, after a high number of charging cycles, dendrites, which resemble small needle-like structures, can develop on battery anodes. These are dangerous as they can cause short circuiting which can lead to fire. By using a porous 3D structure, this phenomenon is mitigated.
During battery charge and discharge, battery electrodes expand and contract, which can reduce overall battery life. Indeed, for emerging anode technologies, the material swelling limits mechanical stability and impacts battery lifetime, making it a major barrier for a wider market adoption. This issue is exacerbated when the battery operates at high currents.With smart 3D battery design, where the active material is integrated in the metal, there are fewer layers, reducing the risk of delamination and electrode cracking in the batteries. This betters mechanical stability across different chemistries including silicon and solid-state, improving lifetime and contributing to the safety of the battery.
How can advanced cell design enable emerging chemistries?
As silicon is a very active material that provides high energy, it undergoes volume expansion and shrinkage during charge and discharge times. This limits performance and battery life, which results in a higher degradation rate and has led to a slower commercial adoption. By using 3D electrodes, swelling is mitigated by accommodating its expansion within a metal framework.
Solid-state batteries can achieve high energy density and increased safety. As a result, this battery chemistry has been named as the holy grail of battery technology. However, companies are struggling to adopt solid-state batteries due to them using thick cathodes, which are unstable and prone to higher degradation. 3D battery design enables the fabrication of energy density thick cathodes that are mechanically stable.
Improving Battery Lifetime with 3D Design
The heat and mechanical limitations present in conventional batteries that use thin foils damage the battery and reduce its lifetime. Consequently, battery degradation and failure are of a high concern to both manufacturers and users. Addionics’ 3D structure mitigates these risks to allow batteries to be more mechanically stable by integrating the active material in it, creating a monolithic structure and reducing the risk of electrode breakage.