One of the fundamental steps in proving new chemistry is making small cells that can be reliably charged and discharged. These small cells are assembled in argon filled gloveboxes. They are small and very fiddly to assemble. However, they need to be precisely built to reduce variation in data caused from physical mis-alignment of electrodes which can drown-out signals of small but important improvements in cell chemistry. The step between data quality of small coin cells and larger format pouch cells has always felt like a fundamental limit to the value of coin cells.
One option is to automate this process and that is exactly what Cellerate have done. This system caught my eye at one of the recent battery technology exhibitions.
- automated coin and pouch cell build from a tray of components
- fits inside a glovebox
- accurately dispense 5-200 μL of electrolyte
- build procedure and order controlled by user
- optical cell component alignment to within 200 μm
- electrolytes and additives from multiple vials allows ratios to be explored in an automated build
- head exchange avoids contamination
Some very early data of cell capacity versus cycling shows the consistency that this system can achieve.
This early data set has shown improvements over hand build with relative standard deviation reducing from 5% to 1%.
As mentioned, this system can build both coin and pouch cells, a worlds first. Cellerates miniature proto-cell format can accurately reflect the performance of larger cells and provides a stepping stone from fundamental coin cells to application ready pouch cells. It really come into it’s own when considering Cellerate have designed the cell to easily include reference electrode, enabling faster research of full cell configurations.
This is a new system and an exciting progression that improves cell build quality in the research labs and in production quality control. It removes some of the more mundane assembly tasks that can absorb hours of researchers time in both assembly and dealing with larger variations in datasets.
We will add more references to comparison data as it gets published. In the meantime, contact Cellerate for more detailed information on this new technology.