Author's School

School of Engineering & Applied Science

Author's Department/Program

Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering


English (en)

Date of Award

Spring 4-27-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Venkat R Subramanian


Lithium-ion batteries are ubiquitous in modern society, ranging from relatively low-power applications, such as cell phones, to very high demand applications such as electric vehicles and grid storage. The higher power and energy density of lithium-ion batteries compared to other forms of electrochemical energy storage makes them very popular in such a wide range of applications. In order to engineer improved battery design and develop better control schemes, it is important to understand internal and external battery behavior under a variety of possible operating conditions. This can be achieved using physical experiments, but those can be costly and time consuming, especially for life-studies which can take years to perform. Here using mathematical models based on porous electrode theory to study the internal behavior of lithium-ion batteries is examined. As the physical phenomena which govern battery performance are described using several nonlinear partial differential equations, simulating battery models can quickly become computationally expensive. Thus, much of this work focuses on reformulating the battery model to improve simulation efficiency, allowing for use to solve problems which require many iterations to converge (e.g. optimization), or in applications which have limited computational resources (e.g. control).

Computational time is improved while maintaining accuracy by using a coordinate transformation and orthogonal collocation to reduce the number of equations which must be solved using the method of lines. Orthogonal collocation is a spectral method which approximates all dependent variables as a series solution of trial functions. This approach discretizes the spatial derivatives with higher order accuracy than standard finite difference approach. The coefficients are determined by requiring the governing equation be satisfied at specified collocation points, resulting in a system of differential algebraic equations (DAEs) which must be solved with time as the only differential variable. The system of DAEs can be solved using standard time-adaptive integrating solvers. The error and simulation time of the battery model of orthogonal collocation is analyzed.

The improved computational efficiency allows for more physical phenomena to be considered in the reformulated model. Lithium-ion batteries exposed to high temperatures can lead to internal damage and capacity fade. In extreme cases this can lead to thermal runaway, a dangerous scenario in which energy is rapidly released. In the other end of the temperature spectrum, low temperatures can significantly impede performance by increasing diffusion resistance. Although accounting for thermal effects increases the computational cost, the model reformulation allows for these important phenomena to be considered in single cell as well as 2D and multicell stack battery models.

The growth of the solid electrolyte interface (SEI) layer contributes to capacity fade by means of a side reaction which removes lithium from the system irreversibly as well as increasing the resistance of the transfer lithium-ion from the electrolyte to the active material. As the reaction kinetics are not well understood, several proposed mechanisms are considered and implemented into the continuum reformulated model. The effects of SEI layer growth on a lithium-ion cell over 10,000 cycles is simulated and analyzed. Furthermore, a kinetic Monte Carlo model is developed and implemented to study the heterogeneous growth of the solid electrolyte layer. This is a stochastic approach which considers lithium-ion diffusion, intercalation, and side reactions. As millions of individual time steps may be performed for a single cycle, it is very computationally expensive, but allows for simulation of surface phenomena which are ignored in continuum models.


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