Northeast Center for Chemical Energy Storage (NECCES)
The design of the next generation of rechargeable batteries requires both the development of new chemistries and the fundamental understanding of the physical and chemical processes that occur in these complex systems. Although some significant advances have been made to prepare and utilize new materials, efforts towards the understanding of mechanisms have waned. This will eventually choke efforts to efficiently develop new materials if this issue is not addressed now. Batteries are inherently complex and dynamic systems, their electrochemistry, phase transformations, and transport processes often varying throughout their lifetime. Although often viewed as simple to use by the customer, their successful operation relies heavily on a series of complex mechanisms, involving thermodynamic instability in many parts of the charge- discharge cycle and the formation of metastable phases. The requirements for long-term stability are extremely stringent and necessitate control of the chemistry at a wide variety of temporal and structural length scales. This in turn necessitates the development and use of new characterization tools to monitor these processes. The overall goal is to understand the transformations (and their rates) that occur in an electrode composite structure, from the atomistic level to the macroscopic level, throughout the lifetime of the functioning battery. The four-year scientific research goals are:
- Close the gap between the theoretical and practical energy density for intercalation compounds.
- Attain reversible multi-electron transfer in a cathode material using lithium.
- Understand performance limiting transport in positive electrode structures from the local through the meso to the macroscale.
- Enable new chemistries involving electrode systems that were previously considered intractable for use in batteries.