An electrochemical investigation of the chemical diffusivity in liquid metal alloys
Author(s)Barriga, Salvador A. (Salvador Aguilar)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Donald R. Sadoway.
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The liquid metal battery has been shown to be a viable candidate for grid-scale energy storage, due to its fast kinetics and ability to be constructed from economically feasible materials. Various of the liquid metal couples that form high stable voltages, such as the calcium chemistries, are rate limited because they tend to form solid intermetallic compounds with high melting points. In order to understand and better engineer these batteries, the kinetic properties of these liquid alloys, in particular the chemical diffusivity, must be known accurately so that it can be used as input in computational simulations to avoid the nucleation of any solids. Unfortunately, the dominant experimental methods for measuring diffusion in liquid metals today are unreliable because the measurement timescales are on the order of days, require long capillaries susceptible to buoyancy-driven flow from temperature fluctuations, and composition analysis must be done ex-situ as a solid. To counter all these problems, a new and novel method for measuring the chemical diffusivity of metals in liquid alloys derived from electrochemical principles is presented in this thesis. This new method has the advantage of operating in shorter times scales of minutes rather than days, and requires the use of small capillaries which collectively minimize the effect of convectively-driven flow caused from temperature gadients. This new method was derived by solving the same boundary conditions required by the galvanostatic intermittent titration technique for solid-state electrodes. To verify the validity of the new theoretical derivation, the method was used to measure the chemical diffusivity of calcium in liquid bismuth within the temperature range of 550 - 700 'C using a three-electrode setup with a ternary molten salt electrolyte. Three compositions where studied (5% Ca-Bi, 10% Ca-Bi, and 15% Ca-Bi) for comparison. The chemical diffusion coefficient was found to range between (6.77 ± 0.21)x10- 5 cm 2/s - (10.9 ± 0.21)x10-5 cm 2/s at 5% Ca-Bi, (4.95 ± 0.65)x10- 5 cm2 /s - (7.93 ± 0.37)x10- 5 cm 2 /s at 10% Ca-Bi, and (6.22 ± 1.2)x10- 5 cm 2/s - (10.2 ± 0.26)x10- 5 cm 2 /s at 15% Ca-Bi which, to our knowledge, are the first successful measurements of calcium diffusivity in the liquid state. Arrhenius fits with good correlations revealed the activation energy for diffusion to be (21.4± 1.7) kJ/mol, (23.0± 2.4) kJ/mol, and (17.7 ±5.9) kJ/mol as the calcium concentration increased, which are in excellent agreement with literature published values and lie in the same range of 15-30 kJ/mol that is reported for most liquid metals. The chemical diffusivity value was then used as input in finite element simulations to model how convection affects the overall transport inside a 20-Ah liquid bismuth electrode under the influence of different thermal boundary conditions. Also, a phase field model was created to simulate the motion of the two interfaces inside a liquid metal battery during operation, which to our knowledge, is the first time phase field has been extended beyond two phases. Experimental kinetic values can then be used as input in these numerical models to help characterize and optimize the entire battery.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering, 2013.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 229-239).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Materials Science and Engineering.