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Screening Precursor–Solvent Combinations for Li4Ti5O12 Energy Storage Material Using Flame Spray Pyrolysis

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posted on 2017-09-29, 00:00 authored by Florian Meierhofer, Haipeng Li, Michael Gockeln, Robert Kun, Tim Grieb, Andreas Rosenauer, Udo Fritsching, Johannes Kiefer, Johannes Birkenstock, Lutz Mädler, Suman Pokhrel
The development and industrial application of advanced lithium based energy-storage materials are directly related to the innovative production techniques and the usage of inexpensive precursor materials. Flame spray pyrolysis (FSP) is a promising technique that overcomes the challenges in the production processes such as scalability, process control, material versatility, and cost. In the present study, phase pure anode material Li4Ti5O12 (LTO) was designed using FSP via extensive systematic screening of lithium and titanium precursors dissolved in five different organic solvents. The effect of precursor and solvent parameters such as chemical reactivity, boiling point, and combustion enthalpy on the particle formation either via gas-to-particle (evaporation/nucleation/growth) or via droplet-to-particle (precipitation/incomplete evaporation) is discussed. The presence of carboxylic acid in the precursor solution resulted in pure (>95 mass %) and homogeneous LTO nanoparticles of size 4–9 nm, attributed to two reasons: (1) stabilization of water sensitive metal alkoxides precursor and (2) formation of volatile carboxylates from lithium nitrate evidenced by attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and single droplet combustion experiments. In contrast, the absence of carboxylic acids resulted in larger inhomogeneous crystalline titanium dioxide (TiO2) particles with significant reduction of LTO content as low as ∼34 mass %. In-depth particle characterization was performed using X-ray diffraction with Rietveld refinement, thermogravimetric analysis coupled with differential scanning calorimetry and mass spectrometry, gas adsorption, and vibrational spectroscopy. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy of the LTO product revealed excellent quality of the particles obtained at high temperature. In addition, high rate capability and efficient charge reversibility of LTO nanoparticles demonstrate the vast potential of inexpensive gas-phase synthesis for energy-storage materials.