Battery Modeling Solutions with Simpleware Software

Posted on June 5, 2018 by Jessica James

The design of lithium-ion and other batteries and energy sources is becoming increasingly crucial as manufacturers need lighter, more efficient, and safer technologies to meet consumer demands. Batteries are tied to the future of electric cars, smartphones and other portable devices. In this context, extensive research is going into battery technology, including optimization of electrodes and material performance through 3D image-based modeling in Simpleware Software.

Micro-CT scan of lithium ion battery

Micro-CT scan of a lithium ion battery, and segmentation and mesh generated in Simpleware Software.

Optimizing Battery Performance with 3D Imaging and Simulation

3D imaging techniques such as X-ray CT and FIB-SEM make it possible to capture the geometry of battery materials at very fine scales. Analysis is made of characteristics such as the distribution of ions, interaction between different active materials, and the effect of porosity on performance.

Researchers using Simpleware Software generate high-quality computational models from these 3D images, which are suitable for import to physics-based solvers for simulation of physical properties. The information obtained is then used to better inform design decisions and understand defects.

Virtual evaluations using Simpleware Software have the following benefits:

  • Ability to model details of complex material geometry and explore impact on properties
  • Computational simulation testing complements and potentially reduces reliance on costly experimental testing
  • Software environment is quickly learnt and customized to specific workflows

With Simpleware Software, workflows can include:

  • Visualization of the inner structure of batteries
  • Statistical analysis of images, for example porosity
  • Creation of high-quality FE/CFD meshes ready for simulation
  • Calculation of effective material properties (stiffness, permeability...)

Current Research

Simpleware Software is being successfully used by a range of researchers to enhance understanding of different energy technologies. Recent work at the Universities of Waterloo, Akron, Carnegie Mellon, and Indiana University-Purdue has included analysis of the heterogeneous microstructure of lithium-ion batteries.

In the study, the LiFePo4 electrode microstructure of a lithium-ion battery is reconstructed in Simpleware ScanIP based on nano-CT images. Models are exported for simulation into COMSOL Multiphysics® where the experimental performance of a LiFeP04 cathode at different discharge rates is predicted. This research provides valuable insights into the spatial distribution of lithium-ion within the actual microstructure of lithium-ion battery electrodes.

3D reconstruction of lithium ion battery from nano-CT data in Simpleware ScanIP (Universities of Waterloo, Akron, Carnegie Mellon, and Indiana University-Purdue).

Other projects using Simpleware Software include work Imperial College and University College London on improving the lifetime and degradation of solid oxide fuel cells. The design of energy materials used in cars and other devices are better understood and optimized by exploring their nano and microstructures, and by simulating their response to a variety of different physical conditions, including thermal, electrochemical, and stress factors. Scans of materials at the nano-and micro-level are converted into high-quality meshes in Simpleware ScanIP and FE. The models are used to study the lifetime and degradation of solid oxide fuel cells at different layers to characterize principal stresses across phases and interfaces.

Dr. Farid Tariq, who was part of this project, has described how Simpleware Software “forms part of the workflow that provides insights into effects which may be difficult to experimentally measure, which may be sources of performance degradation, and areas to target for microstructural optimization."

3D reconstruction of a solid oxide fuel cell

3D Reconstruction of a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell - pores green and ceramic transparent (Imperial College and University College London).

Given the potential for capturing very specific details of battery technology using imaging, as well as increases in computing power to allow more realistic simulations, these workflows are only going to grow in importance for the battery industry.

Interested in applying Simpleware Software to your own research with batteries or other industrial applications? Test out the software for yourself with a free trial, or contact us to arrange a web demo, to send your own image data, or just to get more information on what we do.