Mechanical History Dependence in Carbon Black Suspensions for Flow Batteries: A Rheo-Impedance Study

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We studied the effects of shear and its history on suspensions of carbon black (CB) in lithium ion battery electrolyte via simultaneous rheometry and electrical impedance spectroscopy. Ketjen black (KB) suspensions showed shear thinning and rheopexy and exhibited a yield stress. Shear step experiments revealed a two time scale response. The immediate effect of decreasing the shear rate is an increase in both viscosity and electronic conductivity. In a much slower secondary response, both quantities change in the opposite direction, leading to a reversal of the initial change in the conductivity. Stepwise increases in the shear rate lead to similar responses in the opposite direction. This remarkable behavior is consistent with a picture in which agglomerating KB particles can stick directly on contact, forming open structures, and then slowly interpenetrate and densify. The fact that spherical CB particles show the opposite slow response suggests that the fractal structure of the KB primary units plays an important role. A theoretical scheme was used to analyze the shear and time-dependent viscosity and conductivity. Describing the agglomerates as effective hard spheres with a fractal architecture and using an effective medium approximation for the conductivity, we found the changes in the derived suspension structure to be in agreement with our qualitative mechanistic picture. This behavior of KB in flow has consequences for the properties of the gel network that is formed immediately after the cessation of shear: both the yield stress and the electronic conductivity increase with the previously applied shear rate. Our findings thus have clear implications for the operation and filling strategies of semisolid flow batteries.
Original languageEnglish
Article number33-7
Pages (from-to)1629-1638
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2017


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