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Non-destructive Imagery and Analysis Techniques for Identification of Deleterious Defects in Li-ion Batteries


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Space Platforms 

OBJECTIVE: Develop non-destructive evaluation techniques to image and analyze defects and non-uniformities in Li-ion batteries, and correlate those to a failure mechanism of the cell. 

DESCRIPTION: Undetected defects and non-uniformities in Li-ion cells can impact a spacecraft’s mission assurance, causing costly integration and launch delays or even catastrophic mission failure. These defects can originate from the manufacturing process or form during cycling or transportation. Non-destructive evaluation and analysis of Li-ion cells can prevent defective or degraded cells from impacting mission assurance. Common non-destructive evaluation techniques for internal imaging of Li-ion cells and batteries are computed tomography (CT) X-ray imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and thermography. Poor contrast, excessive image noise, low spatial resolution, and artifacts contribute to poor image quality with these techniques, and can prohibit proper flaw identification and resolution of fine features. Beyond defect identification, analysis of defect type and impact on performance is also critical for mission assurance. This solicitation aims to improve non-destructive evaluation and analysis techniques for enhanced understanding of internal defects and their correlation to cell failure mode. Examples of defects include foreign object debris, non-uniformities, and other manufacturing defects, such as wrinkles or tears within an electrode stack or jellyroll, and within free space in the Li-ion cell. Some examples of defects formed during cycling and transportation are dendrite growth and gas pocket formation. These undesirable Li-ion cell flaws can result in increased self-discharge, internal shorts, and degraded cell performance. Methods proposed under this solicitation must demonstrate detection, identification, and analysis of undesirable manufacturing defects and hazardous cell evolutions. Non-destructive techniques and methods with spatial resolution comparable with the onset of dendritic growth are of interest. Techniques should present a method to differentiate features of interest from artifacts. Analysis should consider defect type, size, and effect on cell performance, to include failure mode. Analysis techniques can be software related or other. Techniques should be non-intrusive and provide timely data without impact to manufacturing operations. Research techniques that would be prohibitive or inappropriate in a manufacturing environment are not the focus of this solicitation. Advancements to non-destructive techniques and analysis mentioned above and novel techniques not described in this solicitation will be considered. 

PHASE I: Perform preliminary analysis of NDE technique in a laboratory setting. Determine critical defect size, resolution, and limitations of imaging technique. Correlate defect type to cell failure mode. 

PHASE II: Demonstrate NDE technique in a manufacturing setting. Relate defect type, size, and location to degradation or failure mechanism of cell with accompanying software and/or database. Demonstrate high-throughput process with minimal effect on manufacturing time and process. 

PHASE III: Validation testing of proposed non-destructive technique and analysis with minimal impact to operations in a manufacturing setting. 


1. D.P. Finegan, et al., Investigating lithium-ion battery materials during overcharge-induced thermal runaway: an operando and multi-scale X-ray CT study, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Royal Society of Chemistry 18, 30912-30919 (2016).; 2. Shearing, P.R., et al., Multi Length Scale Microstructural Investigations of a Commercially Available Li-ion Battery Electrode, J. Electrochem. Soc 159, A1023-A1027 (2012).; 3. Romanenko, K., et al., New opportunities for quantitative and time efficient 3D MRI of liquid and solid electrochemical cell components: Sectoral Fast Spin Echo and SPRITE, J. Magnetic Resonance 248, 96-104 (2014).; 4. Robinson, J.B., et al., Detection of Internal Defects in Lithium-ion Batteries Using Lock In Thermography, ECS Electrochem. Lett. 4, A106-A109 (2015).

KEYWORDS: Non-destructive Evaluation, Li-ion, Defects, Mission Assurance 

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