For a number of NASA's future planetary and terrestrial applications, high energy density rechargeable lithium batteries that can operate at very low temperature are desired. In the pursuit of developing Li-ion batteries with improved low temperature performance, we have also focused on assessing the viability of using gel polymer systems, due to their desirable form factor and enhanced safety characteristics. In the present study we have evaluated three classes of promising liquid low-temperature electrolytes that have been impregnated into gel polymer electrolyte carbon-LiMn2O4-based Li-ion cells (manufactured by LG Chem. Inc.), consisting of: (a) binary EC + EMC mixtures with very low EC-content (10%), (b) quaternary carbonate mixtures with low EC-content (16-20%), and (c) ternary electrolytes with very low EC-content (10%) and high proportions of ester co-solvents (i.e., 80%). These electrolytes have been compared with a baseline formulation (i.e., 1.0 M LiPF6 in EC + DEC + DMC (1:1:1%, v/v/v), where EC, ethylene carbonate, DEC, diethyl carbonate, and DMC, dimethyl carbonate). We have performed a number of characterization tests on these cells, including: determining the rate capacity as a function of temperature (with preceding charge at room temperature and also at low temperature), the cycle life performance (both 100% DOD and 30% DOD low earth orbit cycling), the pulse capability, and the impedance characteristics at different temperatures. We have obtained excellent performance at low temperatures with ester-based electrolytes, including the demonstration of >80% of the room temperature capacity at -60 °C using a C/20 discharge rate with cells containing 1.0 M LiPF6 in EC + EMC + MB (1:1:8%, v/v/v) (MB, methyl butyrate) and 1.0 M LiPF6 in EC + EMC + EB (1:1:8%, v/v/v) (EB, ethyl butyrate) electrolytes. In addition, cells containing the ester-based electrolytes were observed to support 5C pulses at -40 °C, while still maintaining a voltage >2.5 V at 100 and 80% state-of-charge (SOC).
- Gel polymer Li-ion cells
- Low temperature Li-ion electrolytes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering