David L. Wood, III, Ph.D., Roll-to-Roll Manufacturing Team Lead & Fuel Cell Technologies Program Manager, Energy & Transportation Science Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a presenter during the Lithium-Ion Development & Commercialization conference at the 34th Annual International Battery Seminar & Exhibit in Fort Lauderdale.
R&D and Manufacturing Challenges and Energy Density Improvements
for Low-Cost Lithium-Ion Batteries
1) Can you elaborate on the R&D and manufacturing challenges that persist while fulfilling the U.S. Department of Energy’s ambitious goal of reducing battery electric vehicle pack costs to $125/kWh?
Raw materials cost and integration of next-generation active materials are still key challenges. We’d like to be able to use both Ni-rich NMC cathodes and composite anodes with high amounts of Si and manufacture these raw materials at much lower costs. Active material synthesis cost is currently a significant barrier. There are also significant electrode and cell assembly costs that need to come down from a processing standpoint, with challenges including lengthy dispersion formulation and mixing times, coating deposition line speed, costly solvent removal and recovery, and lengthy wetting, formation, and warehousing processes. Solid-state lithium-ion batteries, with Li metal anodes and non-porous electrolytes, also offer potential safety advantages that could lower pack costs through simplified controls and thermal management. Sodium-ion and Li-S batteries could also play a critical role in reducing cost because these cell chemistries utilize much cheaper raw materials.
2) What energy density improvements to lithium-ion cells do you foresee as most significant or likely in the next 5-10 years?
There are still significant challenges to implementing new high-voltage cathodes, such as Ni-rich NMC and NCA materials, and high-capacity anodes, such as Si-graphite composite materials. If both of these transitions can be made, we could see over 100% improvement in cell energy density. Increasing the thickness of electrode coatings and designing improved electrode architectures for high power density (high energy at high C rate) will also be important for boosting energy density another 20-25%, but there are also significant processing challenges to manufacturing thick electrodes. Using Li metal in a Li-S or solid-state lithium-ion battery together with a thick cathode is also another promising route to raising energy density.
3) What applications beyond transportation might your work at ORNL have?
The great part of what we do at the DOE Battery Manufacturing R&D Facility at ORNL (BMF) is that the R&D focuses on implementation of new materials and processes that benefit all energy storage markets – transportation, grid storage, and portable electronics.
David Wood is a Senior Staff Scientist, Roll-to-Roll Manufacturing Team Lead, Fuel Cell Technologies Program Manager, and UT Bredesen Center Faculty Member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researching novel electrode architectures, advanced processing methods, manufacturing science, and materials characterization for lithium ion batteries and low-temperature fuel cells, and has been employed there since 2009. He is a well-known energy conversion and storage researcher with an industrial and academic career that began in 1995. From 1997 to 2002, he was employed by General Motors Corporation and SGL Carbon Group, excelling at applied R&D related to automotive and stationary PEFC technology. Later work (2003-2009) at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Cabot Corporation focused on elucidation of key chemical degradation mechanisms, development of accelerated testing methods, and component development. Dr. Wood received his BS in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University in 1994, his MS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Kansas in 1998, and his Ph.D. in Electrochemical Engineering from the University of New Mexico in 2007.
Presentation: Thursday, March 23 during the Lithium-Ion Development & Commercialization conference: InternationalBatterySeminar.com/Battery-Development/