MRI simulation technique determines the health status of batteries

One group of chemicals has developed an MRI-based technique that can quickly diagnose the remaining battery life – and even detect any internal defects – without opening the batteries.

“The use of alternative energy for electric vehicles will further increase demand for better and safer batteries,” says Alexej Jerschow, a professor at the Department of Chemistry at New York University, who led the research team. “However, there is now a very limited set of tools available to diagnose the health of a battery without being destroyed – and without the need for invasive technique, and therefore offers us a faster and more expansive method for making these estimates” .

This study was published in the journal Nature Communications, and NYU’s Andrew Ilott, Mohammad Mohammadi, NYU’s PhD candidate, also participated in the study. Christopher Schauerman and Matthew Ganter, researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

“Ensuring cell quality and safety is paramount for the battery manufacturing process that can save significant costs for businesses and prevent the occurrence of catastrophic cellular failures,” says Ganter, co-director of the Center for the Creation of Protocols Batteries in RIT (English: RIT Battery Prototyping Center).

“This project not only supports the battery industry as a whole, but also the growing energy storage ecosystem in New York,” adds Christopher Schauerman, co-director at the RIT Battery Prototyping Center.

The research focuses on rechargeable Li-ion batteries, used in mobile phones, laptops and other electronics. In particular, rechargeable batteries are at the heart of new technologies, including electric cars or storage for renewable energy.

However, recent malfunctions in handhelds and electric vehicles have highlighted the design difficulties of batteries for these state-of-the-art technologies. In addition, engineers often can not determine the nature of the defects or even the impending battery failures without opening them, which usually leads to their destruction.

Generally, magnetic resonance (MR) or magnetic resonance methods provide the ability to measure microscopic changes in magnetic field maps and thus generate an image of what is within a structure – for example, MRI or magnetic resonance imaging)) can produce images of the human organs of a body in a non-invasive manner.

In their work at Nature Communications, scientists have adopted a procedure similar to MRI. Here, they measured microscopic magnetic field changes around the electrochemical cells of the battery.

In their experiments, they looked at lithium-ion batteries in different states – different charge levels (ie battery life) and conditions (eg, some damage and others not). These cells were prepared by collaborators at the RIT original battery production center. With these data, the NYU team has been able to adapt the changes in the magnetic field around the batteries to different internal conditions, revealing the charging state and some defects. These included bent and missing electrodes as well as small foreign objects inside the batteries, which are defects that can occur during the normal production process.

“With future improvements to this method, it could be a powerful tool for predicting battery damage and battery life as well as facilitating the development of next generation high performance, high capacity and long-lasting or high- “Said Jerschow.