3D printing complete energy storage architectures

(Nanowerk News) Many of the current 3D-printed energy storage systems, such as 3D-printed lithium-ion batteries, utilize a direct-write technology, where the print is formed of a fluidic compound, printed layer-by- layer, before requiring curing, by either heat, UV exposure or nitrogen freezing. This curing/freezing is required to solidify the printed model, resulting in a system that is highly restricted in the vertical z-direction, and experience significant warping and shrinkage.
Reporting their findings in Advanced Energy Materials ("Next-Generation Additive Manufacturing of Complete Standalone Sodium-Ion Energy Storage Architectures"), researcher have demonstrated the first freestanding sodium-ion (full cell) battery formed entirely of components that have been fabricated via 3D printing.
This approach is a novel and contemporary solution for the development of the next generation of energy storage systems integrating the active materials NaMnO2 and TiO2 within a highly novel porous supporting material, designed to maximize electrode surface area, before being AM/3D printed into a proof-of-concept model based upon the basic geometry of a commercially available AA battery.
Schematic illustration and photographs of the fabrication procedure of the complete freestanding fully 3D printed sodium-ion battery
Schematic illustration and photographs of the fabrication procedure of the complete freestanding fully 3D printed sodium-ion battery. (Reprinted with permission by Wiley-VCH Verlag) (click on image to enlarge)
The team's energy storage architecture is developed entirely using 3D printed components. In order to do this, the active battery materials have to be integrated into a porous polymer matrix; without this, the electrolyte cannot penetrate the active components and the lack of a triple-phase boundary means that an 3D printed structure without porosity, is a poor/completely useless battery.
Therefore, the researchers developed a porous polymer matrix by integrating an immiscible water-soluble polymer into an 3D printable polymer matrix. In this case, PVA is mixed into an ABS polymer matrix along with the active materials, NaMnO2 for the cathode, and a TiO2 nanopowder for the anode, along with the inclusion of Super P nanocarbon in order to enhance the electrochemical conductivity.
The resulting composites are extruded into 3D printable filaments and manufactured via FDM 3D printing an appropriate electrode design/energy storage architectures.
The 3D printed electrodes are then sonicated in water for 4 hours to remove the micropockets of PVA (as PVA is easily dissolvable within water), leaving microporous electrochemically active 3D printed electrodes/energy storage architectures. The resulting electrode/structure is dried at 60°C and stored under vacuum.
The 3D printed devices demonstrate a respectable performance of 84.3 mAh g-1.
By Michael is author of two books by the Royal Society of Chemistry: Nano-Society: Pushing the Boundaries of Technology and Nanotechnology: The Future is Tiny.
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