Understanding the limits of rapid charging using instrumented commercial 18650 high-energy Li-ion cells

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    The charging rates of commercial high-energy Li-ion cells are limited by the manufacturer's specifications leading to lengthy charging times. However, these cells are typically capable of much faster charging, if one ensures that the thermal and electrode-specific voltage profiles do not exceed safety limits. Unfortunately, precise and in-situ measurements of these parameters have not been achieved to date without altering the operation of these cells. Here we present a method to assess the maximum current for commercial 18650s, using novel instrumentation methods enabling in operando measurements. We found the maximum charging current that could be safely applied to the evaluated high-energy cells is 6.7 times higher than the manufacturer-stated maximum. Subsequently a rapid-charging protocol was developed that leads to over five-fold reduction in charging times without compromising the safety limits of the cells. We anticipate our work to be a starting point for a more sophisticated understanding of commercial Li-ion cells through deployment of diverse in-situ sensor systems. This understanding will enable advances in battery materials science, thermal engineering and electrical engineering of battery technology. Furthermore, this work has the potential to help the design of energy storage systems for high performance applications such as motor racing and grid balancing.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)346-352
    Number of pages7
    JournalElectrochimica Acta
    Early online date12 Jan 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2018

    Bibliographical note

    © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    • Li-ion cell instrumentation
    • Optical fibres
    • Rapid-charging
    • Reference electrode
    • Thermal management


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