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A segmented cell measuring technique for current distribution measurements in batteries, exemplified by the operando investigation of a Zn-Air battery
Poster Exhibition
Non Lithium battery materials
Characterization methods

To increase the speed of the transition from fossil fuels to technologies based on renewable energy grid storage solution are needed both for short and for long term storage. For short-term storage (<1h for grid service) lithium-ion batteries are currently the technology of choice as they exhibit a good compromise between energy density and cost which has been dropping significantly over the last decades due to advances in cell and production technology as well as economy of scale. However, concerns in terms of safety, resource availability and sustainability have led to efforts to find alternatives. One particularly promising alternative is the zinc-air battery owing to its high theoretical energy density of 1353 Wh•kg-1 (excluding oxygen) from which a practical energy density of 300 Wh•kg-1 is suggested to be realistic for primary button cells [1], low cost below 100 $ kW•h-1 due to the use of low cost and abundant materials and inherent safety.[2] Although they are a mature technology already commercialized as primary batteries further development is needed to enable rechargeable Zn-air technology.[3] For further optimization of the cell architecture, the electrodes as well as the operation conditions the knowledge about current distributions is essential since an inhomogeneous current distribution leads to inhomogeneous aging and therefore faster degradation. In this work we present a technique to measure current distributions by the use of a transimpedance amplifier and showed that oxygen starvation as well as gas flow rate leads to large current gradients. It was also demonstrated that heterogeneous current distributions on cathode side induces also a heterogenous dissolution behavior on the anode, resulting in irreversible capacity loss. By cycling the battery and recording impedance spectra every cycle we could show how the changing wettability of the cathode materials together with the hydrostatic pressure of the electrolyte reduces the electrochemical performance of the lower electrode part, shifting it to the upper part with lower electrolyte saturation. [1] J. Stamm, A. Varzi, A. Latz, B. Horstmann, Modeling nucleation and growth of zinc oxide during discharge of primary zinc-air batteries, Journal of Power Sources, 360 (2017) 136-149. [2] J. Zhang, Q. Zhou, Y. Tang, L. Zhang, Y. Li, Zinc–air batteries: are they ready for prime time?, Chemical Science, 10 (2019) 8924-8929. [3] S. Hosseini, S. Masoudi Soltani, Y.-Y. Li, Current status and technical challenges of electrolytes in zinc–air batteries: An in-depth review, Chemical Engineering Journal, 408 (2021) 127241.

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Dennis Kopljar, Norbert Wagner, K. Andreas Friedrich