This work presents novel modeling and experimental techniques that provide insight into liquid-phase mass transport and electron transfer processes in lithium-ion batteries. These included liquid-phase ionic mass transport (conduction and diffusion), lithium diffuion in the solid phase and electronic transport in the solid phase. Fundamental understanding of these processes is necessary to efficiently design and optimize lithium-ion batteries for different applications. To understand the effect of electrode structure on the electronic resistance of the cathode, we tested power performance of cathodes with combinations of three different carbon conductivity additives: vapor-grown carbon fibers (CF), carbon black (CB) and graphite (GR). With all other factors held constant, cathodes with a mixture of CF+CB were found to have the best power-performance, followed by cells containing CF only and then by CB+GR. Thus, the use of carbon fibers as conductive additive was found to improve the power performance of cells compared to the baseline (CB+GR). The enhanced electrode performance due to the fibers also allows an increase in energy density while still meeting power goals. About one-third of the available energy was lost to irreversible processes when cells were pulse-charged or discharged at the maximum rate allowed by voltage-cutoff constraints. We developed modeling and experimental techniques to quantify tortuosity in electrolyte-filled porous battery structures (separator and active-material film). Tortuosities of separators were measured by two methods, AC impedance and polarization-interrupt, which produced consistent results. The polarization-interrupt experiment was used similarly to measure effective electrolyte transport in porous films of cathode materials, particularly films containing lithium iron phosphate. An empirical relationship between porosity and the tortuosity of the porous structures was developed. Our results demonstrate that the tortuosity-dependent mass transport resistance in porous separators and electrodes is significantly higher than that predicted by the oft-used Bruggeman relationship. To understand the dominant resistances in a lithium battery, we developed and validated a model for lithium iron phosphate cathode. In doing so we considered unique physical features of this active material. Our model is unusual in terms of the range of experimental conditions for which it is validated. Various submodel and experimental techniques were used to find physically realistic parameters. The model was tested with different discharge rates and thicknesses of cathodes, in all cases showing good agreement, which suggests that the model takes into account physical realities with different thicknesses. The model was then used to find the dominant resistance for the tested cathodes. The model suggests that the inter-particle contact resistance between carbon and the active-material particles was a dominant resistance for the tested cathodes.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Chemical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





li-ion batteries, battery modeling, tortuosity, Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles