Electrolytes comprising, variously, LiPF6 or LiPF6 plus LiBF4 dissolved at various concentrations in mixtures of alkyl carbonates and alkyl esters have been found to afford improved low-temperature performance in rechargeable lithium-ion electrochemical cells. These and other electrolytes have been investigated in a continuing effort to extend the lower limit of operating temperatures of such cells. This research at earlier stages, and the underlying physical and chemical principles, were reported in numerous previous NASA Tech Briefs articles, the most recent being “Ester-Based Electrolytes for Low- Temperature Li-Ion Cells” (NPO-41097), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 29, No. 12 (December 2005), page 59. The ingredients of the solvent mixtures include ethylene carbonate (EC), ethyl methyl carbonate (EMC), methyl butyrate (MB), and methyl propionate (MP). The electrolytes were placed in Li-ion cells containing carbon anodes and LiNi0.8Co0.2O2 cathodes, and the electrical performances of the cells were measured over a range of temperatures down to –60 °C. The electrolytes that yielded the best low-temperature performances were found to consist, variously, of 1.0 M LiPF6 + 0.4 M LiBF4 or 1.4 LiPF6 in 1EC + 1EMC + 8MP or 1EC + 1EMC + 8MB, where the concentrations of the salts are given in molar units and the proportions of the solvents are by relative volume.

This work was done by Marshall Smart and Ratnakumar Bugga of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Mixed-Salt/Ester Electrolytes for Low-Temperature Li+ Cells

(reference NPO-42862) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the November, 2006 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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