Scalable and continuous processing of particulate systems for energy applications: Importance of formulation science in battery and fuel cell research

Fatih Özcan, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany

The ever-increasing demand for green energy solutions accelerates research activities in the search for materials with enhanced properties both in battery and hydrogen technologies. However, along with the search for and developments of advanced materials an equally required focus needs to be put on the identification and establishing of scalable and robust manufacturing processes. Only by addressing all relevant aspects of electrode manufacturing for green energy applications and thus transferring lab-scale findings to industrial application in a fast way, the targeted reduction of fossil emissions and the transition into a sustainable and renewable energy utilization can be achieved.

To this end, we present attempts to identify process-structure and structure-property relationships on all levels of particle processing towards functional electrodes in the field of battery and fuel cell technology. Especially, scalable and continuously operable technologies with a focus on formulation science are presented. Here, we report on how hierarchical structuring of Si/C composite nanoparticles towards micrometer scale agglomerates in the course of a spray-drying process can have beneficial impact on the performance of lithium-ion battery anodes. With detailed characterization on formulation level, we try to link slurry properties (e.g. agglomerate stability, rheology) with performance data.
For fuel cell applications, we try to establish a continuously operable wet impact mill for the modification and dispersion of Pt/C based catalysts for an improved utilization in fuel cells. We investigate process parameters and combine this with self-developed methods for ink characterization again with the aim to identify process-structure-property relationships. The presented approach shall act as a blueprint for energy related materials that are expected to emerge in the future.

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