Energy Storage: 
A Global Challenge Proven by Microtomograph at Insa Lyon

One of the most active industrial sectors for many years has been the development of energy storage technologies, particularly for batteries. 

With the exponential growth of electric mobility, connected objects, and communication tools, the stakes are rising.

Today's Situation of Energy Storage

When discussing electrochemical batteries, there is one fundamental concept: converting electrical energy into chemical energy during charging and vice versa to restore electrical energy during discharge. In lead batteries, this principle has been applied for 150 years. Lithium-ion batteries were created more than 30 years ago, and they continue to be the most popular solution across many industries. It is the most efficient option because of its extremely high efficiency (3 times more power than a lead battery of equal weight) and the high number of cycles.

Existing products can still be improved in a number of ways, including storage capacity, manufacturing costs, safety, environmental impact, and, of course, life expectancy. These final two items were the main focus of the work described in this application note.

Lithium-Ion Batteries: An Introduction

Since lithium-ion batteries are used in everything from cell phones to electric vehicles, they are quickly replacing other types of energy storage. These batteries are currently the most popular option due to their significant power and autonomy. Nevertheless, there are numerous studies in progress right now that are concentrating on various issues, including: storage capacity, security, ecological cost, and of course life expectancy.
"X-ray tomography proves key tool in 
 race for improve energy storage solutions"

What is Lithum - Ion Batteries?

Each of the numerous cells that make up a lithium-ion battery has the capacity to produce a few volts. In Li-ion batteries, each cell is made up of two electrodes that will exchange lithium ions. The next critical phase towards improving battery performance is the analysis of the chemical components of the electrodes at a very small scale. 

Today’s Challenge

Traditional methods of materials analysis frequently call for the sample to be destroyed and do not allow for the monitoring of a battery's evolution over charge and discharge cycles. The analysis of a three-dimensional porous network cannot be done using these techniques because they only provide two-dimensional information.

Today’s Possible Solution

A technical response to this issue is provided by X-ray micro-tomography. Visualizing is essential to comprehending the mechanisms of electrode degradation over cycles.
    › "In-situ" measurements create pictures while a battery is being charged and discharged
    › 3D rendering results of the electrode on a submicron scale
The National Institute for Scientific Research (INRS) in Varennes, Canada, and the MATEIS laboratory, both of which are equipped with an EasyTom 160, have collaborated on research that has improved the manufacturing process for electrodes and decreased electrode degradation during charge and discharge cycles.

Easytom Microtomograph - A Key Tool for Better Energy Storage Solutions

It has been proven effective to analyze the microstructure of materials in Li-ion cells with Silicon electrodes using a laboratory microtomograph, both for ex situ analyses on an inert sample and for in situ experiments. Thus, the three-dimensional distribution of silicon in the electrode can be measured using the EasyTom 160, and various degradation phenomena can be seen as they occur.

With this innovation, laboratories and research facilities can significantly speed up their work while continuing to rely on synchrotron sources when the capabilities of the laboratory apparatus are exhausted.