The surge in demand for high-performance batteries is driving significant investment in every stage of production. Laboratories associated with battery research and manufacturing need material analysis solutions in each step of the process, all the way from raw material production to recycling spent batteries. To meet the analysis requirements, a wide range of instruments, software and related technologies is required.
Analytical techniques across the battery supply chain
Research This work involves development of next-generation battery materials and improvements in existing lithium battery technologies.
Novel cathode active materials research
Electrolyte, cathode and anode material degradation product studies
Exploration of new methods and improvement of existing techniques for battery material recycling
Development of next-generation batteries (e.g., solid state, sodium)
Material composition and purity characterization
Raw materials This step of the supply chain involves mining, processing and refining raw materials, such as lithium, manganese, nickel, cobalt and iron salts, graphite and silicon.
Mined material processing
Refined product purity analysis
Quality assurance and control
Bulk process control and quality control (QC)
Mineral, ore and brine analysis for lithium and impurity element analysis
Confirmation of material quality
Cell components and assembly In this stage, a variety of processes, including development of novel chemistries, anodes, cathodes, electrolytes and separators, as well as on-line inspection are required. This step also covers mixing of materials, coating, drying, calendering and stacking of battery jelly rolls, and packaging components into pouch, prismatic or cylindrical forms.
Manufacturing of battery cells and/or cell arrays
Electrolyte composition confirmation
Ensure quality of design
Failure analysis and material rejection
Detection and quantification of elemental impurities
Research and routine QA/QC measurement
Battery testing During this phase, manufacturers need to ensure that the finished battery cells meet specification before they are assembled into battery packs.
Failure analysis and rejection
Battery aging, environmental and electrical studies
Analysis of degradation products:
Cathode material compounds
Separator degradation products
Battery recycling This final stage of the battery supply chain incorporates bulk recycling and recovery of cathode and anode materials (the so-called ‘black mass’) and includes recycling of both end-of-life batteries and manufacturing scrap from failed cells to retrieve and refine the material for use in new batteries.
ICP-MS – Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry
HPLC – High performance liquid chromatography
LC-MS – Liquid chromatography mass spectrometry
IC – Ion chromatography
GC – Gas chromatography
GC-MS – Gas chromatography mass spectrometry
IC-MS – Ion chromatography mass spectrometry
HR-ICP-MS – High resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry
GD-MS – Glow discharge mass spectrometry
OEA – Organic elemental analyzer
Why these analytical techniques?
Ion chromatography – By using ion chromatography, researchers and scientists can confirm the anionic composition and purity of electrolyte solutions and gain insights into degradation mechanisms in lithium-ion batteries to ensure product quality during manufacturing.
Gas chromatography – Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) systems can reach lower detection limits and obtain richer information with sensitive detection and accurate mass-fragment and molecular ion identification. By identifying and quantifying compounds formed during electrolyte aging, GC-MS systems can provide new insight into Li-ion battery degradation.
Mass spectrometry – When studying lithium-ion battery components, detection using mass spectrometry (MS) dramatically extends the capabilities of ion and liquid chromatography (IC and HPLC) systems and provides higher sensitivity, accurate quantitation, peak confirmation and evaluation of chromatography peak purity, improved resolution of complex samples with seamless integration of MS data into IC and HPLC workflows.
Elemental analysis – Long before lithium-ion batteries are produced, laboratories use elemental analysis to determine the composition and purity of lithium-rich brine and lithium ores which will eventually be refined into battery component materials. The refined materials also require elemental analysis to ensure their composition and purity before use, since the presence of impurities significantly degrades the performance and lifetime of the battery.
Liquid chromatography – Whether you’re analyzing electrolyte solvents or working to achieve the next breakthrough in battery recycling, liquid chromatography solutions can improve your productivity, deliver a maximum return on your investment, and when coupled with mass spectrometry provide confident insights to drive business decisions.
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