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.
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- Li-ion cell instrumentation
- Optical fibres
- Reference electrode
- Thermal management