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X-ray CT provides a technical solution for improving the performance of batteries 

The development of energy storage solutions, especially for batteries, has been one of the most active industrial fields for many years. The stakes are getting higher to this day with the exponential growth of electric mobility, connected objects and means of communication. Many projects are currently underway, focusing on different aspects: storage capacity, security, ecological cost and of course life expectancy.

Li-ion batteries are made up of a multitude of cells, each one being able of generating a few volts. Every cell is formed of two electrodes that will exchange ions, lithium in Li-ion batteries. The analysis on a very small scale of the chemical components of the electrodes is then an essential step to improve the performance of the batteries.

Visualizing, better understanding, and improving batteries with X-Ray CT 

Conventional means of materials analysis often require the destruction of the sample and do not allow the evolution of a battery to be monitored over the charge and discharge cycles. In addition, these techniques provide two-dimensional information only, which is unsuitable for the analysis of a three-dimensional porous network. In order to improve the performance of batteries, X-ray Computed Tomography provides a technical solution to the challenge of understanding materials analysis and porous networks. 
Understanding the mechanisms of electrode degradation over cycles, means visualizing:
- “In-situ” measurements: produce images during charge & discharge cycles
- 3D rendering results of the electrode on a submicron scale

An important range of high-quality results provided with RX Solutions X-Ray industrial CT systems

RX Solutions systems give high-resolution up to 0,4 µm and high-magnification capacities making internal electrode arrangement and any failure or defects visible for batteries. The detection can be directly performed in the acquisition and reconstruction software X-Act provided with the machine or within a state-of-the-art analysis program if needed.

For a better insight into batteries' structure, measurement, and component alignment, you can scan with In situ experiments. Tomography analyses can also be performed with a sample under stress. This is called in-situ analysis. This type of analysis offers the possibility to understand the physical phenomena by observing them directly during the tomography scan. Tomography also allows to control the general assembly of a battery and thus to avoid the most frequent and most feared risk: the thermal runaway phenomenon. This runaway can be due to assembly problems, shocks, or a strong temperature increase. The battery can then ignite violently. The X-ray tomography scan makes it possible to avoid this risk and thus to market batteries made up of cells in good working order, without risk for the user.
Thanks to an advanced laminography mode, it is even possible to scan and analyze bigger batteries with high resolution. Individual layers can be visualized and component placement is then checked. In addition, 4D tomography (a time dimension is added) allows to follow the evolution of a battery over time and thus measure its ageing. By scanning the same battery several times, its ageing can be analyzed through different parameters such as the thickness of the stainless steel case, the layout of the lithium sheets, the presence of voids or inclusions... By using an industrial tomography system and automating all the steps, from scanning to post-processing, 100% battery inspection is henceforth feasible.

RX Solutions provides a broad range of CT systems, allowing its industrial & academic customers to examine closely Lithium-ion batteries and better prepare product development & quality control issues for these parts.