Improving power and energy density by grading electrode microstructures is a promising topic in the field of battery electrode engineering. While previous modelling studies have predicted both considerable and marginal improvements in cell performance, very few experimental studies have been conducted to validate the performance of graded electrodes. In this article, we report on the fabrication of a bi-layer graded lithium-ion battery cathode by varying both the particle size and the porosity in each layer. Structural analyses were carried out via 2D (scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX)) and 3D (X-ray computed tomography (XCT) and focused-ion beam tomography (FIB)) imaging techniques. The bi-layer cathode (BLC) exhibits an increase of 62.8% in discharge capacity at 2C compared to a conventional single layer electrode. The polarization and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy data indicate that the improved capacity performance of the BLC can be attributed to reduced charge transfer resistance and increased solid phase diffusivity. However, capacity retention performance reveals that the BLC retained no advantage over a conventional electrode in a half-cell configuration after 100 cycles. At 1C, the BLC displayed only minimal improvement in power (4.6%) and energy (7.6%) density based on first discharge capacity. As such, noting the extra challenges involved in manufacturing such graded electrode structures, it is recommended that their use is best focused on higher C rate applications and that more work is needed to demonstrate the retention of the higher C rate performance gain over multiple cycles.
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||Sustainable Energy & Fuels|
|Early online date||10 Sep 2021|
|Publication status||Published - Oct 2021|