BCI Battery Poster Research Showcase

The BCI Poster Research Showcase is open to undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral level researchers and assistants. The showcase will be hosted in person at the 2024 BCI Convention & Power Mart Expo in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from April 21-24, 2024.

Battery Research Showcase

Students will contribute to the scientific community’s research of battery innovations during the BCI Poster Research Showcase hosted at the 2024 Battery Council International (BCI) Convention & Power Mart Expo in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, April 21-24, 2024.

This poster experience is intended to support researchers in university, governmental and commercial settings in building awareness about the scientific opportunity and objectives of careers in battery technology, preferably with a focus on lead, and to share cutting-edge science and technology across this critical industry. Current entrants for this year’s showcase include:

Investigation of organic expander molecules to advance understanding of structure-function relationships in lead acid batteries

Cailin Buchanan, Argonne National Laboratory

Expander molecules like Vanisperse A are added to the negative electrode pastes used in lead acid (PbA) batteries to promote high surface area and favorable discharge performance. Despite these advantages, expander molecules typically inhibit charging rates, limiting the use of PbAs in advanced applications that require repeated deep discharge/charge cycling. A deeper understanding of the atomic-level mechanisms that control additive-lead species interactions is necessary to optimize expander molecules for both discharge and charge performance. A collaborative project between government, academia, and industry has screened over one hundred model expander molecules (MEMs) using cyclic voltammetry, density functional theory, and various spectroscopy methods to characterize their chemical and electrochemical stability and performance properties. The MEMs are categorized by their lignin structural motifs and the presence of functional groups, e.g., sulfate, sulfonate, and carboxylate, with the goal of establishing structure-function relationships. Discharge (DEF) and charge (CEF) enhancement factors were established as the metrics for electrochemical performance relative to sulfuric acid without expanders as the baseline. Four categories of expander molecules were defined based on their DEF and CEF values: traditional, e.g., Van A, inhibitors, enhancers, and rheology modifiers. The set of materials evaluated to date demonstrates that expander molecules that can enhance both the discharge and charge performance are possible and do exist. On the other hand, the inhibitor class may lead to a deeper understanding of the expander degradation processes and their impact on cycle life. These results help us identify the design rules for expander molecules targeted to advanced PbA applications.

Novel Characterization of Pb-acid Materials Utilizing XRM paired with Micro-CT

Grant Spencer, University of North Texas, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Lead-acid (Pb-acid) battery cells are a growing electrochemical choice for renewable energy grid-storage, while remaining the premier choice for combustion engine start-up sources. Up until recently, very few non-destructive experimentation techniques have been utilized for Pb-acid cell characterization – such techniques are useful to identify performance-defining heterogeneities that may develop within a cell during electrochemical cycling. X-ray microscopy (XRM) is a non-destructive, advanced characterization technique that, when paired with micro-computational tomography (µCT), renders 3-dimensional images that can be utilized to analyze features with resolution dimensions as small as 700 nm, depending on sample material, thickness, and geometry. This study applied XRM with µCT to analyze Pb-acid minicells and such performance-defining heterogeneities that might develop under voltametric cycling, such as secondary phase growth and evolution, and crack and porosity formation, as well as inclusions. Utilizing ORS Dragonfly software for 3D image refinement and final stage analysis, large phase transformation was recognized for the Pb-paste within the cell between initial and final volumes, when considering secondary phase growth. Feature sizes with resolutions of 4-5 microns were observed using the NDE technique. Due to XRM’s large depth of field, this technique is considered advantageous for region of interest analysis for more in-depth studies involving Pb-based materials, that include smaller feature sizes, below submicron range, as well as for a selection stage for region of interest investigation utilizing scanning electron microscopy (SEM) or transmission electron microscopy (TEM), which was utilized for investigation of features with nm sizes.

Design, synthesis and structural evaluation of model expander molecules for advanced lead-acid battery storage applications

Madhu Chennapuram, The University of Toledo

Lead acid batteries provide a day-to-day reliable energy storage application in various fields like automotive, standby power, renewable energy, telecommunication, industrial and robotics. 1 In addition to the electrochemically active lead species, these batteries contain a number of additives that improve performance and cycle life. Lignosulfonates (LS) are organic biopolymers that are used as additives in a variety of applications, including the production of lead acid batteries (Figure 1) 2. In lead acid batteries, LS serve as organic expanders to improve the performance of the battery’s storage capacity and extending its service life, as well as by acting as a wetting agents and improving the conductivity of the electrolyte, which tends to improve battery efficiency. 3 To be able to understand the interaction of specific functional groups with lead species in detail, small molecules that mimic portions of LS can be used as model expander molecules (MEMs). In this study, we are designing and synthesizing lignosulfonate-based MEMs. A series of MEMs were prepared from different synthetic methods (Scheme 1).  The MEMs’ stability under conditions relevant for battery applications was investigated by cyclic voltammetry in 5 M H2SO4. Additionally, the interaction of the MEMs with Pb2+ and their stability at elevated temperature and in 5 M sulfuric acid was studied by spectroscopic and diffraction techniques.

“The convention brings many experts in lead batteries from the academic and industrial fields. So, to present my doctoral project to this audience was a great opportunity to exchange experiences and learn more about battery technology.”

Researchers with selected entries from the BCI 2023 Battery Poster Research Showcase

Opportunities for Participants of This Poster Experience

  • Receive free registration to the Convention upon acceptance of your poster
  • Network with industry experts and engineers from the US’s leading battery manufacturers
  • Be one of the first to be recognized for your research achievement
  • Showcase your project and network to attract resources including potential funding
  • Explore and learn from industry innovations
  • Collaborate and brainstorm with academics

“The showcase was a fantastic platform for sharing ideas and sparking insightful conversations with professionals from diverse backgrounds. Overall, it’s a must-attend for anyone in our field looking to expand their knowledge and connect with like-minded peers.”

Important Dates for the 2024 Battery Poster Research Showcase

  • Visit the online portal beginning September 29, 2023
  • Deadline for submission January 26, 2024
  • Applicants to be notified of acceptance by February 23, 2024
  • Applicants confirm their participation by March 15, 2024
  • Attend the 2024 Battery Council International Convention & Power Mart Expo Battery Poster Research Showcase in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from April 21-24, 2024.
  • The BCI Poster Research Showcase will be held during the Power Mart Expo on Monday, April 22, 2024.
Steve Binks of the International Lead Association

...[this] is the start of a journey that will raise global standards and help ensure that lead batteries continue to be a key enabling technology for the transition to a low carbon future.

Dr. Steve Binks, Regulatory Affairs Director, International Lead Association