Date of Award

December 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Benjamin C. Church

Committee Members

Nidal Abu-Zahra, Junhong Chen, ChangSoo Kim, Jianlin Li


Electrode Microsturcture, Electrolyte Wetting, Lithium Ion Battery, Manufacturing, Mercury Intrusion Porosimetry, Pore Network


Beside natural source energy carriers such as petroleum, coal and natural gas, the lithium ion battery is a promising man-made energy carrier for the future. This is a similar process evolved from horse-powered era to engine driven age. There are still a lot of challenges ahead like low energy density, low rate performance, aging problems, high cost and safety etc.

In lithium ion batteries, investigation about manufacturing process is as important as the development of material. The manufacturing of lithium ion battery, including production process (slurry making, coating, drying etc.), and post-production (slitting, calendering etc.) is also complicated and critical to the overall performance of the battery. It includes matching the capacity of anode and cathode materials, trial-and-error investigation of thickness, porosity, active material and additive loading, detailed microscopic models to understand, optimize, and design these systems by changing one or a few parameters at a time. In the manufacturing, one of the most important principles is to ensure good wetting properties between porous solid electrodes and liquid electrolyte. Besides the material surface properties, it is the process of electrolyte transporting to fill the pores in the electrode after injection is less noticed in academic, where only 2-3 drops of electrolyte are needed for lab coin cell level. In industry, the importance of electrolyte transport is well known and it is considered as part of electrolyte wetting (or initial wetting in some situations). In consideration of practical usage term, electrolyte wetting is adopted to use in this dissertation for electrolyte transporting process, although the surface chemistry about wetting is not covered.

An in-depth investigation about electrolyte wetting is still missing, although it has significant effects in manufacturing. The electrolyte wetting is determined by properties of electrolyte and electrode microstructure. Currently, only viscosity and surface tension of electrolyte is used to reflect performance of electrolyte wetting. There are very few reports about quantitative measurement about electrolyte wetting. Moreover, there are only simple qualitative observations, good, poor, and fair, were reported on the wettability of microporous separators. Therefore, development of a quantitative analysis method is critical to help understand the mechanism of how electrolyte wetting is affected by material properties and manufacturing processes.

In this dissertation, a quantitative test method is developed to analyze the electrolyte wetting performance. Wetting rate, measured by wetting balance method, is used to quantitatively measure the speed of electrolyte wetting. The feasibility of the wetting rate is demonstrated by repeated test of wetting rate between electrolytes and electrodes. Various electrolytes from single solvents to complicated industrial level electrolytes are measured with baseline electrodes. Electrodes with different composition, active materials and manufacturing process, separator sheets with different materials and additives are also measured with baseline electrolyte. The wetting behaviors for different materials and manufacturing processes could be used to help improve the optimization of production process.

It is very necessary to reveal the mechanism underlying electrolyte wetting, especially the effects of electrode pore microstructure. The Electrodes, which are composed of active material, binder and carbon black, are formed by production process (rheological processing, coating, drying), and post-production process (calendaring and slicing etc.). The pore structure is also complicated by the broad size range of pores from nanometer to tens micrometer. In this dissertation, a pore network concept, as revealed in the MIP test (mercury intrusion porosimetry), is employed to characterize the electrode pore structure. It is composed by the random pore cavity and connected part of pores, which are further described by the percentage of total pore volume and the threshold and critical pore diameter.

The effect of calendering process on electrolyte wetting, as a demonstration for typical post-production process, has been revealed by the wetting balance analysis. A quantitative analysis of the pore structure under the pore network concept is used to investigate the evolution of pore structure with the increase of calendering force. Based on the pore structure, the hypothesis of combined effects of capillary and converging-diverging flow in electrolyte wetting is proposed to understand the mechanism. A further demonstration of the effect of production process by adding excessive carbon black is accomplished. The hypothesis is valid to explain the electrolyte wetting behavior with increasing amount of carbon black. The pore structure differences between electrodes with various amount of carbon black are shown by the scanning electron microscope.