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Review of energy storage technologies in harsh environment

  • Yoka Cho
  • Hossam A. GabbarEmail author
Research Article

Abstract

Electrical energy storage (EES) is crucial in energy industry from generation to consumption. It can help to balance the difference between generation and consumption, which can improve the stability and safety of power grid. Share of renewable energy generation and low emission energy utilization at consumption side can grow up via the development of EES technology, which could reduce the emission of Greenhouse gas in the whole energy chain. Nowadays, the usage of EES are becoming broader not only in normal environment but also in some harsh environment such as underground, space and very cold climate, which brings new challenges from energy storage element (cell) technology to system packaging technology. This paper reviewed the available energy storage technologies, and their special requirements and applications in harsh environment. More attentions were paid to the usage of EES in cold climate application both for transportation such as electric vehicles (EV), and stationary application including large/small scale energy storage located in cold area, where stable discharge/charge at temperature lower than −20 °C are required. Finally, a comprehensive review of the current technology from cell level to package was presented, and possible directions for R&D in the future to widen the operation temperature range of battery were proposed.

Keywords

Energy storage Harsh environment Low temperature Hybrid Battery 

Introduction

Electrical Energy Storage (EES) is the process of harvesting energy produced at one time and storing it in a special medium, and returning the stored energy back into electrical energy form to use at a later time when needed. Nowadays, the whole world has to face the issue of energy and severe environment pollution caused by conventional energy production and consumption. To achieve the target of reducing greenhouse gases, CO2, CH4, vapor of H2O emissions, the share of conventional fossil fuels will decline in the future energy generation and consumption, but on the other hand usage of renewable energy sources and clean way of consumption will increase dramatically, which has less impact to the environment and more sustainable (Nishioka and Skea 2008). However, there are several issues for the power grid and end user caused by the growth percentage of renewable generation and consumption. Firstly, it is difficulty to stabilize the frequency of power grid due to the dynamic change in the output of renewable generation and it will deteriorate if the frequency deviate too much. Conventionally, the frequency of grid is controlled mostly by the output adjustment of thermal plant with some positive and negative capacity margin. But this is not an efficient operation way, because the extra initial cost is inevitable. Moreover, this output margin needs to be increased with the growth of renewable energy, which decreased the efficiency of thermal plant and aggravate the pollution and emission of CO2 even more. When amount of EES with quick response and high capacity installed in the grid its capacity will be big and quick enough to be able to mitigate the fluctuations, there almost no need for thermal plant to design very big margin and accordingly they can operate at a higher efficiency. Secondly, renewable energy is affected by weather condition which is unstable and difficult to forecast accurately. Some possible measures can be employed to solve this issue. One of them is to install much more renewable energy, which can provide overcapacity and enable the valley output of renewable energy meet the demand of power consumption. Another way is to install renewable energy over a wide area and various type, which is able to take advantage of weather conditions changing spatially and temporally and smooth effects expected from the complementarity of different location (i.e. west and east hemisphere) and type (i.e. wind and solar energy). But these two methods are impossible unless: a) large enough numbers of installations with the declining cost of renewable energy to a certain affordable point and, b) mutual intelligent transmission networks which can enable distributed generation to be optimised by managing all connected energy generation devices through automated smart contract (Reyhanloo et al. 2018). And it will create new waste due to the overcapacity of installation which drag the efficiency again, therefore those strategy are unfeasible anyway. Even though other researchers have made efforts to look for various solutions, including shifting the load through load profile management, interconnecting with external grids, etc., energy storage is one of the most feasible approaches both from technology and economics aspects (Chen et al. 2009; Status of electrical energy storage systems 2004). ESS is able to supply various functions: (a) meeting peak power load demands, (b) energy management of time varying, (c) lightening the intermission nature of renewable energy generation, (d) improving quality/reliability of grid power, (e) satisfying electrical vehicle fast charging needs, (f) contributing to the realization of distributed energy and smart grids, (g) reducing electrical energy import or power plant positive margin capacity for peak demand (Luo et al. 2015).

At the end side of energy chain that consumes a pelenty of energy, especially in the transportation field, energy consumption option without or with less fossil energy such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) or electric vehicles (EVs) are replacing the convectional internal combustion engine (ICE). More precisely, considering well-to-wheel efficiency ICE should be replaced by motor driven by electricity generated from renewable energy which has less impact to the environment and almost unlimited amount. However, in spite of remaining issues (high cost, long charging time, short driving distance, limited operation temperature range) which is one of the biggest obstacles to prevent wide adoption of EV/HEV, EES is the key technology for electrification of transportation (Internatinal Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 2011).

Because of the great potential and key roles of EES as shown in Fig. 1, the research and development, and industrial applications have been reviewed by amount of publish from different perspectives. Saktisahdan et al (2014) conducted a technical comparison of the various EES technologies focusing on their specific energy, energy densities, cost and suitability for various energy storage usages as Tables 1 and 2, which indicates that battery, UC and hydrogen (FC) are most proper EES technology for mobile energy storage application including EV/HEV and portable electronic device. Benbouzid et al (2012) reviewed the various EES for marine current energy utilization, which has incredible potential contribution for renewable energy. Several types of EESs and their application/development status were discussed comprehensively in (Cong et al. 2009). Tan et al. focused on the EES technologies for micro-grid applications and analysed details including the interfaces of power electronics, ESS configuration and topologies, control structure designs for charging/discharging, control strategy for combination of different ESS technologies as well as optimizing the capacity of renewable energies and ESS. And in order to propose smart ESS as the potential option in the future of smart grid, they also discussed the trends and challenges of ESS (Li et al. 2013). Liu et al. presented the state-of-the-art hydrogen storage materials for on-board applications and advanced chemical materials for lithium-ion batteries (LiB) and ultracapacitors (Li et al. 2010). The state of technology and installations of several ESS is presented and their various characteristics are analysed in (Bruel et al. 2014). The paper also introduced what kind of characteristics the energy storage technologies should have to be adapted for renewable energy systems. (Mustafa et al. 2014) offered a review summary about the applications of ESSs for renewable energy integration in different field and the important factors that are crucial for choosing proper EES technologies for either commercial or house applications. Díaz-Sumper et al (2012) and Zhao et al. (2015) reviewed ESS technologies for wind turbine application. Sumper et al. (2012) discussed existing EES applications in wind power in details, whilst paper (Wu et al. 2015) presented the operation and control strategies, and the planning issues of the applications of ESS technologies for the integration of wind power support. Additionally, as to the application of ESS technologies applied in transportation field, (Hoque et al. 2017) discussed classifications methods of different energy storage technologies based on their energy storage formations, materials, and overall life-time efficiencies. The paper indicated that current LiB technologies used for EVs still need to be optimized to improve the efficiency of EV energy storage.
Fig. 1

Problems in renewable energy utilization and possible solutions

Table 1

Technical characteristics of some selected energy storage technologies

 

Power Rating (MW)

Storage duration

Cycling or lifetime

Self-discharge rate per day

Energy density (Wh/l)

Power density (W/l)

Response time

Efficiency

Initial cost USD/kW

Initial cost USD/kWh

PHS

100–1000

4–12 h

30–60 years

~ 0

0.2–2

0.1–0.2

Sec - Min

70–85%

1200 ~2100

30 ~ 100

CAES

10–1,000

2–30 h

20–40 years

~ 0

2–6

0.2–0.6

Sec - Min

40–75%

1600 ~ 2200

40 ~ 60

FES

0.001–1

Sec – 4 h

20,000–100,000

1.3–100%

20–80

10,000

< sec

70–95%

2100 ~ 2600

1500 ~ 6000

NaS

10–100

1 min – 8 h

5000–10000

0.05–20%

150–300

120–160

< sec

70–90%

3500 ~ 6000

260 ~ 700

LiB

0.1–20

1 min – days

1000–10,000

0.1–0.3%

200–400

1,300 - 10,000

< sec

85–98%

400 ~

250 ~ 500

FB

0.1–100

1–4 h

12,000 – 14,000

0.2%

20–70

0.5–2

< sec

60–85%

400

315 ~ 1680

SC

0.01–1

Ms - min

10,000- 100,000

20% - 40%

10–20

40,000–120,000

< sec

80–98%

500

2400 ~ 6000

SMES

0.1–1

Ms - sec

Unlimited

0% at 4 K

~6

~2,600

< sec

80–95%

2000 ~ 4000

5000 ~ 6000

100% at 140 K

Hydrogen

1–150

Min – weeks

5–30 years

0–4%

600 (200 bar)

0.2–20

Sec - Min

25–45%

3000 ~ 6000

1.1 ~ 2 kWh

Table 2

Suitability of different ESS

ESS technologies

Energy management

Power quality

Transport/portable

PHS

✓✓✓

✓✓

×

CAES

✓✓✓

✓✓

×

FES

✓✓

✓✓✓

NaS

✓✓✓

✓✓

LiB

✓✓✓

✓✓✓

FB

✓✓✓

✓✓

×

SC

✓✓

✓✓✓

✓✓✓

SMES

✓✓✓

×

Hydrogen

✓✓✓

✓✓✓

✓✓✓

However, in addition to those factors discussed in the existing review papers about ESS/EES such as cost, life time, energy density and efficiency, no mater stational or mobile application of energy storage, the future development target for energy storage devices need to also be reliable when working in various specific and even harsh environments, e.g. with widen temperature range, under high or low pressure, vibration to ensure the little or no maintenance for not only normal consumer, but also for military, industrial, and aerospace applications. Most of the energy storage technology can be used in normal environment, but proper ESS that can be used in harsh environment still needs to be studied. This review focuses on ESSs that are suitable for harsh environment especially low temperature area.

Challenge of energy storage technologies in harsh environments

Except for wide utilization at normal conditions, EES devices are also subject to extreme conditions- defined by the temperature and the surroundings. For example, as one of the widely used portable EES application, batteries in our cell phones may suddenly shutdown in extreme cold area or catch fire in harsh hot climates as the environmental temperature is beyond the limit of battery. The batteries are required to work over a wide range of operating temperatures and pressure in areas such as exploration in under grand (oil and gas resource exploration and exploitation), heat reactors, electronic or electrical equipments in defensive industry and aerospace exploration. Other examples as drones operating in cold climates and high-altitude can experience low temperatures down to −60 °C. Batteries must operate under a predefined wide temperature range. Medical devices, for example, normally work at room temperature, but must be sterilized in 120 °C. In some applications such as energy harvesting, sensors for drilling tools, batteries experience totally different temperatures during charge and discharge.

Salari et al. (2016) gave a general EES operation temperature range with its applications as Fig. 2. Most of battery applications operate from −20 to 60 °C, but there is increasing demand for batteries to work under extreme temperature. Military industry needs batteries to be able to work from – 40 °C to 60 °C, and there are still issues existing to produce such batteries economically. Electric vehicles require battery systems able to perform stably in both colder climate (lower than −20 °C) and hot climate (higher than 50 °C). Low temperature leads to instability of energy supply and device malfunction, and the high temperature causes significant safety issues with a resultant catastrophic thermal runaway of the system.
Fig. 2

Temperature dependent applications of energy storage devices (Salari et al. 2016)

In subsurface field, for example, in order to get real-time data, such as porosity of apparent neutron, density of formation bulk and photoelectric factor to understand formation porosity and lithology while drilling, the Logging-While-Drilling tool (Columbia University n.d.) are widely employed in oil exploration. They record geological data and need to be powered by a battery to avoid the inconvenience of using extension cords in high-angle, extended-reach, or horizontal conditions in many of wellbores. The temperature of wellbore is a complex function of wellbore geometry, depth, flow rate, fluid composition, and formation properties. The temperature in those area typically varies from 60 to 120 °C (Hagoort 2005). But it could be ten-fold greater in thin-crust areas such as volcanic and geothermal areas. The tool must work in subsurface well where the temperatures routinely range from 20 to 100 °C but can get as 200 °C or higher. Therefore, three types batteries (Table 3) which has relatively wide temperature range were addressed in the early time. The wireline operator must have the battery packs short circuited intentionally to heat them up over 50 °C which is necessary minimum temperature for chemical reaction, before lowering the tool into the hole. Because cells might leak, the reusable battery housing must be gastight to prevent tools from being corroded by leakage from the encapsulated cells in case. A pressure relief valves is necessary to enable emitted gas vent. In addition, the battery cells must be well designed to prevent anodes and cathodes from shorting during shock and vibration application (Evaluation of Oilfield Batteries 1998). Sui et al. (2015) presented two types of encapsulation methods for autonomous sensing microsystems to withstand high pressure and corrosive environment. They successfully tested the encapsulated systems at temperature 150 °C and pressure 10,000 psi respectively in environments of concentrated brine, oil, and cement slurry. Figure 3 illustrated the typical application scenario where the microsystems collecting, and logging data as being transported by fluid flow along the wellbore and the fractures. At a depth more than 3500 m underground, the temperature may be over 125 °C, and the pressure might range from 1000 to 6000 psi, and the chemical environment may have salinity levels from 50,000 to 150,000 ppm (Chapman and Trybula 2012). The chemical and pressure tolerance requirement can be achieved by packages design, but the temperature tolerance must be built into the sensor system which causes more challenges to the battery cell and package design. Osswald et al. (2011) reported a graft copolymer electrolyte (GCE)-based LiB that has operation temperatures up to 120 °C, which supplies another possible option for the subsurface application (Fig. 4).
Table 3

Battery used for subsurface environment

Chemistry

Temperature operating range

Alkaline

−30 to 80 °C

Lithium copper oxide

−30 to 125 °C

Lithium copper oxyphosphate

50 to 175 °C

Fig. 3

Diagram of LOGGING-WHILE-DRILLING tool (Evaluation of Oilfield Batteries 1998)

Fig. 4

Application of autonomous sensing system in downhole environment (Sui et al. 2015)

Another field of applications in extreme environment for energy storage systems is the defense and aerospace industries. Modern developed countries army are equipped with increasing number of high-tech defense products, such as unattended ground sensors, GPS, IR vision and radio systems. But all those equipments depend on battery systems for their prompt and freely mobile function (Oman 2002). Defense equipments are often used in extreme environment, carried by soldiers on their backs for extended period. Therefore, for defence applications, batteries must operate over a wide range of temperature and altitude conditions, light-weighted, and exhibit minimal energy loss when it stands by. Furthermore, when used in miniature explosive devices, thermal batteries need insulation layer in order to keep the temperature between 400 to 700 °C and to protect adjacent components from overheating (Salari et al. 2016).

Researchers and engineers are trying to develop secondary battery and primary battery as fuel cell technology to meet the required energy and power demands of aerospace activities. Improved battery performance of battery cells on safety and durability for astronauts helps to realize a few exploration systems. Aerospace is extremely harsh environment for any type of energy storage (Mercer 2010). The future planetary science mission concepts are grouped into four categories:1) outer planets, 2) inner planets, 3) Mars, and 4) small bodies. Outer planetary orbital/flyby missions likely require advanced rechargeable batteries with calendar life longer than 15 years, high specific energy more than 250 Wh/kg and energy density higher than 500 Wh/l and should be compliant with planetary protection requirements. A comprehensive summary of energy technology needs for future planetary science mission was given by NASA as Figs. 5 and 6 (Ahmad n.d. 2003, NASA 2017). While more channellings for ESS will come from the future mission of inner planet include Venus and Mercury, where the temperature and pressure are 460 °C and 92 bars. However, at an altitude of 55 km where the winds are strong enough to enable aerial missions thereby benign condition of 0 °C and 1 bar. If aerial missions are contemplated lower in the atmosphere then batteries may need to operate at higher temperatures up to 350 °C corresponding to an altitude of 15 km. Orbital missions require similar battery in specific energy and energy density as outer planetary missions but longer cycle life capability that is more than 25,000 cycles. Aerial missions would require advances in rechargeable battery technologies with high specific energy (>1000 Wh/kg) and wide temperature operational rang (25 °C -350 °C) over the altitude range of 55–15 km, while near-surface aerial systems would need rechargeable batteries technologies that can work with temperature up to 460 °C if exposed to ambient conditions.
Fig. 5

EV and HEV sales estimation (Blomgren 2017)

Fig. 6

Energy consumption of various methods to heat a battery (Ahmad n.d.)

On the other hand, the vibration often causes electrical power systems fatigue failure. Vibrations could result from the roughness of road, gear system, acceleration and collision for electric transportation application, which will have serious impact on the mechanical reliability and power output. The typical road-induced vibration ranges from 0 to 150 HZ (Marco and Hooper 2015). While the safety standard of air transportation requests the battery has to be tested with vibration from 7 HZ to 200 HZ and back in 15 min (C. H. B. S. J. S. C. M. P and Williard 2016). Recently, more attention has been paid to the impact of the mechanical force to batteries. Basically, the effect of vibration can be prevented by improving layout and structure of battery pack design (Kume and Murakami n.d.). Successful design of the reliability in mechanics and electrics for the battery pack structure have been achieved by different researchers and institute (Arora et al. 2016; Lee et al. 2010).

Based on the reviewed researches above, the environments for energy storage can be roughly classified as Table 3. Normally, it is not so difficult to improve pressure and vibration tolerance via package structure design, because they do not cause energy while operation. However, thermal issue especially in harsh environment is very challenging, because no matter the initial structure design it consumes energy especially in low temperature environment. Therefore, this paper will focus on the energy storage in low temperature environment (Tables 4, 5 and 6).
Table 4

Classification of Environment for energy storage applications

 

Normal Environment

Harsh Environment

Temperature

−20 to 60 °C

< −20, 60 °C

Pressure

11.6 to 106 kPa

<11.6, 106 kPa

Vibration

< 200 Hz

>200 Hz

Table 5

The performance of LiB working with different electrolytes

Formulation

Discharge capacity (based on room temperature)

Discharge rate

LiPF6 EC-DMC-EMC (1:1:1)

52% (−40)°C

LiPF6 EC-EMC-MA-tol(1:1:1:1)

50% (−40 °C

c/10)

LiPF6 EC-DMC-MB

87% (−40 °C)

c/2

LiPF6 PC-EC-MB

98% (−30 °C)

c/2

LiPF6 PC-EC-EMC (1::1:3)

83% (−30 °C)

Table 6

Energy storage technology needs for future planetary science mission concepts

Mission destination

Mission type

Energy storage type

Energy parameters

Life parameters

Environmental parameters

Planetary protection

Primary

Rechargeable

High Specific Energy Wh/kg

High Specific Energy W/kg

Long Calendar Life (yrs)

Long Cycle Life

High Temp. °C

Low Temp. °C

Radiation*

Outer Planets

Orbital

 

X

>250

 

>15

1,000

  

Jup

OW

Surface

X

 

>500

 

>15

NA

 

−180

Jup

OW

Probes

X

 

>500

 

>15

NA

 

−180

Jup

OW

Inner Planets/Venus

Orbital

 

X

>250

 

>10

>50,000

    

Aerial

 

X

>100

 

>4

>500

25–350

   

Surface

X

 

>200

 

0.5–1

NA

~460

   

Mars

Orbital

 

X

>250

 

>15

>50,000

    

Aerial

 

X

>250

3000

>5

>1000

 

−40

 

X

Surface

 

X

>250

 

>5

>1000

 

−40

 

X

Sample

 

X

>250

 

>10

  

−40

 

X

Return

Missions

Human

 

X

>250

 

>15

>1000

   

X

Precursor

Missions

Small Bodies

Orbital

 

X

>250

 

>15

>50,000

    

Surface

 

X

>250

 

>15

>1000

 

−40 to 40

  

Sample

X

 

>500

 

>5

NA

 

−40 to 40

  

Return

X: required; JUP; Jupiter system; OW: Ocean Worlds

Compared to ESSs in the highly specialized and relatively low volume markets in the above-mentioned industries, the competitive and high-volume electric vehicles market, which have dramatically increased because it is an environment friendly transportation (Keil and Jossen 2014). Theoretically, various technologies can convert electricity to other forms of energy and store them for a period of time. These electrical energy storage technologies can be classified as showed in Table 7: mechanical energy storage including Pumped Hydroelectric Storage PHS, Flywheels energy storage FES and compressed air energy storage CAES; thermal storage including Molten-salt energy storage MSES, Hot-water storage, Phase change material storage PCM; electrochemical storage including ultracapacitor UC, Superconducting magnetic energy storage SMES; electrochemical storage Lithium-ion batteries LiB, Lead-acid battery LaB, Sodium-sulfur batteries NaS,, Flow batteries FB; Chemical storage including Hydrogen, Synthetic natural gas SNG (S. E. Institute 2013). Some important indicators to evaluate these energy storage systems are show in Table 1. Nowdays, among all these technologies, LiB is the most widely used technology for transporation application due to its high specific energy and power as indicated in Table 1. Meanwhile the cost of LiB is becoming acceptable with the rapide growth of production capacity around the world, e.g. in 2011 the total production of LiB around the world was just 46.63 GWh while it had growed up to 103 GWh unitle 2015, and is estimated to dramatically increase to 403 GWH in 2025 (Curry 2017). Therefore, most EVs and HEVs adopt LiBs as their primary or secondary power source and its increasing specifications and decreasing cost leads dramaticaly grwoing of EVs and HEVs that is estimated to be 35% by 2040 (Bloomberg 2016).
Table 7

Energy storage technologies classification

Mechanical storage

Pumped hydro storage (PHS)

Flywheel energy storage (FES)

Compressed air energy storage (CAES)

Thermal storage

Molten salt energy (MSES)

Hot water storage

Phase change material storage (PCM)

Electrical storage

Ultracapacitor (UC)

Superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES)

Electrochemical storage

Lithium-ion battery (LiB)

Lead-acid battery (LAB)

Sodium-sulfur battery (NaS)

Vanadium redox flow battery (VRB)

Chemical storage

Hydrogen

Synthetic natural gas (SNG)

However, currently the performances of the EV and specifically of the energy storage system are still incomparable with ICE. One of the reasons why most of the passengers are still not willing to choose EV is because the expensive batteries which contributes over 30% of the EV cost, and have a lower autonomy and a shorter lifespan. In addition, the limited operation temperature range obstruct the widespread use of EV/HEV in cold climate area further. In circumpolar latitude areas such as Russia, Canada, or north Europe where the temperature during winter can often fall lower than −20 °C and lasts for several months, driving an electric vehicle powered by battery is not reliable, especially when starting after a long-time parking (Boulon et al. 2016). While heating cabin in low temperature atomosphere consumps plenty electric energy, which will shorten the driving range further. Unignorable reduce of both power output and usable energy is caused by the dramatically decreased performance of LiBs, and Li-ion becomes trend to deposited easily as well, leading to obvious decrease of lifetime, which also prevent the development of electrical vehicles. When the temperature drops down to −10 °C, LiBs lose huge amount of energy and capacity (Lin 2001). It was reported that when the temperature drops down to −20 °C the capacity of graphite will drop to 12% of its capacity at 25 °C. The energy density of 18650 type LiB decreases dramatically about 95%, and the power density falls to 10 W/l from ~800 W/l as the temperature decreases from room temperature 25 °C to −40 °C. Additionally, the safty charing temperature of LiBs is above 0 °C and charging will achieve it higher efficiency when temperature is higher than 10 °C because of ions are more difficult to move back from anode to cathode inside of battery i.e. internal resistance is higher at charging than discharging. Furthermore, the mass transport become difficulty at low temperatures because the lithium ions become inactive at low temperature, and it causes lithium dendrite formation and growth, which could cause battery damage due to short circuits or even explosion. Therefore, further studies are necessary to improve the safety and reliability of battery at low temperature, which could help EV/HEV can be accepted by more customers in wide range of countries and areas.

Cell level studies on energy storage technologies in ultra-low temperature

The perofrmacne of LiB could be affected by lots of factors, such as the electrolyte conductivity that affect the motion of ions, cell structure design, thickness of electrode, separator porosity, wetting properties and etc. The solution conductivity increases with temperature while its viscosity decreases with temperature; thus, the movement of the ions becomes difficulty in cold environments, causing its internal resistance to increase (Zhang et al. 2015). Working at low temperature cause the concentration of electrolyte becomes ununiform seriously, and deteriorates the polarization. More important impact to the battery is that the lithium-ions transports slowly in the carbon anode but lithium precipitate easily, which may damage the battery. And this is also the reason that the discharging temperature limit is lower than charing limit, e.g. normal LiB can discharge down to −20 °C but has to be charged above zero Celsius degree (Ji and Wang 2013).

The low temperature performance of LiB is fundamentally determined by the electrolyte/electrode composition and microstructure. Therefore, in order to improve the performance LiB from basic cell materials, several eletrochemical researchers have studied how to produce proper electrolytes with low freezging point and high ionic conductivity, and electrode with high reactive activity in low temperature.

Studies on low temperature electrolyte

As a medium for ionic transportation, electrolyte demermines the internal resistance and also take part in the process of reaction to creat an solid electrolyte interface (SEI) film on the electrode, which protect the electrode from further reduction and permits the transportation of lithium ions. The electrolyte availabe in the current market for LiB typically dissolves in ethylene carbonate (EC) and ethylmethyl carbonate (EMC), both of which freeze when the temperature below −30 °C. Therefore, various researches have attended to develop low-temperature electrolytes.

C. Smart and his coworkers (Smart et al. 2007) impregnate three types of liquid low-temperatuer electrolytes into gel polymer electrolyte and tested temperature impacts on all of the parameters including rate capacity, cycles,pulse capability,and etc. Their cells employing a low temperature compound electrolyte consisting 4 substances achieved nearly full capacity at −40 °C using a C/10 discharge rate. The other electrolytes they innovated can even discharge at −60 °C (C/20 discharge rate) with more than 80% of capacity at room temperature. Kwang Man Kim and his colleagues (Kima et al. 2014) tested three types of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) – based grafted and ungrafted copolymers as additives to commerical standard liquid electrolyte to see if they can enhance the LiB performance at low temperature. They found PDMS-based additive can help liquid electrolyte solution keep stable and have good ionic conductivities at −20 °C.Differeing from conventional liquid electrolyte, researchers at the University of California San Diego (Rustomji et al. 2017), developed a breakthrough liquified gas electrolyte employing difluoromethane that has stable performace ove an wide temperature rang and enable electrochemical capacitors work from −78 to 65 °C with an increased voltage, and helps a 4 V lithium cobalt oxide cathode together with lithium metal anodes to operate with excellent capacity down to −60 °C.Becaue their electrolytes are made from liquefied gas solvents that makes it far more resistant to freezing than normal liquid one. Characteristics such as, low viscosity, high dielectric constant, good coordination behaviour are key factors to choose a proper cosolvents, which can lower the freezing point and the viscosity of electrolyte while keeping high conductive. S. T. C. T. B. V. K and Ein-Eli (1997) innovated a binary solvent consisting of methyl formate (MF) and EC, which present excellent conductivity when it was added to electrolyte at −40 °C. It was found that addition of MF can contribute to better the performance at low temperature. Some researchers employed ternary or quaternary mixtures to improve the conductivity of electrolyte solution and extend its liquid range. Research Shiao H.-C.(Alex) et al. (2000) showed that carbonate solvent or toluene can improve the cycle efficiency of LiB cells. There was not apparent reduction in the capacity even working at −40 °C.

O. S. B. S. Herreyre (2001) and his co-workers found that LiB with electrolyte of EC-DMC-EA and EC-DMC-MB could work at −40 °C with over 80% of the initial capacity. Zhu et al. (2015) summarized the formulations of electrolytes studied by different researchers, and the ones can work lower than −20 °C was listed in Table 5. It is obvious that PC-EC-MB can output 98% of capacity with attractive cyclic ability even at −30 °C, which presents the most excellent low-temperature performance among all the formulations. The major drawback is that the SEI of the PC-based electrolyte is not so stable, which, however, could be improved by adding additives (S.-l.-k. R. Wagner, 2014).

As one of the most important energy storage technologies, ultracapacitors (UC) can deliever very high power more than 1000 W/kg but small amount of energy density that is less than 10 Wh/kg normally. It is often used for pulsed applications where high power is necessary but its limitted energy density proven its useage where energy duration is requested. Similaryly, low temperature operation is also a challenge for of UC. Nowadays, commerilized UC cells are normally limited in operation above −40 °C. However, lots of its energy is lost when temperature lower than 0 °C. Usually, the electrolytes of currently available UC in the market employ 1 M tetraethylammonium tetrafluoroborate (TEA-BF4) in propylene carbonate (PC) solutions. Brandon (2010) believe that the freezing of electrolyte and low ionic conductivity limit the operation of UC to −40 sC. West et al. (2007).

used multiple-solvent electrolytes due to its low-melting point and reduced viscosity. They impoved the operation temperatures of the assembled UC down to −55 °C. Experiments in NASA laboratory revealed that organic co-solvents was able to widen the operation of UC as low as −75 °C. However, the voltage window that is less than 3 V deteriorate the durability of UC.

Studies on low temperature electrodes

Graphite is widely used for commerical LiB as anode due to its reliability and low cost. Howerver, because of the high registance at the electrolyte-anode interface, graphite can not meet the requirement at low temperature. One of the possible improvement way is trying to reduce the electrochemical impedance, prevent solvated lithium-ions intercalating and the electrolyte decomposing, which could be achieved by dowsizing the particle of graphite via heat treatment or wet chemical oxidation (Wen et al. 2015). Other methods of improvement have been reported such as mixing graphite with nana metal particles (Dsoke et al. 2005; Mancini et al. 2010) and coating oxidized graphite electrodes with nanometer layer of metal (Mancini et al. 2010; Mancini et al. 2009; L. F. H. Z. T. Z. Y. W. H. W. J. Gao 2005) which succeed at −60 °C but did not reported life cycles. Innovative multilayer graphene (up to ten) anode materials was successfully synthesized by Varzi et al. (2015). The high active surface area created by graphene enhance electrochemical reaction at anode, which facilitate the transportation of lithium ion and keep it dynamic enough even at low temperate down to −40 °C. However, the material graphene that is only one atom thickness is still far away from mass production with affordable cost and stable quality.

Similar methodology has been applied to improve the performacne of cathode at low temperature. Nano particle size of most common cathode materical such as LiFePO4, LiCO2, LiMn2O4 have been tested by different research (Scrosati et al. 2008; Wang 2008; Maccario et al. 2008). And obvious improvement was presented due to small size particles can imporve the diffusion of lithium ions and strength the chemical kinetic at low temperature. Coating LiFePO4 with carbonaceous material could strength the stability of electrolyte decomposintion layers on cathode surfaces and prevent undesirable reactions. Comparision with original LiFePO4 in (Guo et al. 2013) showed that the capacity improved abouth 13% at −25 °C after coating with carbon on cathode. But the process control is still an issue to have the coating become a standard process in cathode mass production. Because the tap density of LiFePO4 could be decreased by excessively coated carbon that could generate byproducts with unclear function.

There are lots researches relating improvement of LiB performacne in low emperature from cell levels, i.e. studies on materials and process of LiB. However, no matter being commericalizated or not all of the cell level solution have to use raw materials and exploy very complex synthesis procedures of production. Therefore, the cost of low temperature battery even is has been comericalized is several time of normal LiB that can discharge between −20 °C to 55 °C, which causes them further far away from being acceptable by market.

Pack level studies on energy storage technologies in ultra-low temperature

The energy storage performance depends on not only cell technology but also package management technologies. Therefoe studies on pack design is also a potentional direction to improve the performance at low temperature. According to the test conducted by American Automotive Association, the driving range of EV per charge is 105 miles at 23.9 °C but drops by 57% to 43 miles at −6.7 °C (Extreme Temperatures Affect Electric Vehicle Driving Range, AAA Says 2014). Compared with heating metholodgy,cooling received a lot attentions as both motiable and stational application of battery focuse in temperate zone which has major share of market and high temperatue could shorten lifetime and cause safety issues. Battery performance in low temperature is the major obstacle to have green energy become widely used in cold area. Hesting should not be a big issue for HEV which could utilize the waste heat from engine, and stational on-grid ESS application which can use grid power to heat the battery when necessary. However, in pure EV and remote or off-grid EES application, it will be great challenge to startup when the temperature lower than its limit. Such as in most EVs, the possible heat comes only from powertrain waste heat that is generated from motor (iron loss and copper loss), inverters, and batteries itself. But those heat are not unstable and could not contribute any help for cold start. The battery of EV could be heated internally via battery resistance, or externally via resistor powered by grid. However, those heating methods usually can not heat the battery more than 1 °C /min, which cost much time to warm up the battery to its optimal temperature. And accordingly, the battery has to work at low temperture with low efficiency, which consum amount of extra energy and shorten the driving distacne of EV. Mover, at low temperature battery can not be charged by energy regenerated from braking which could contribute about 20% of EV range. Song et al. (2012) tried to use an external energy from charging station to preheat the battery pack of EV in cold environment. The results showed that the battery retains bigger capacity when it is warmed up to ambient temperature than the case that there is no preheating. However, this strategy will greatly cause incovenience to customer and worse the customer experience, because the situation that there is not external energy source available was not considered, which actrually is more common case for EV. Heat transfer in the preheating strategy of core heating, fluid heating and jacket heating was research simulatly by thermal finite element models (FEM) by Pesaran (2003). They evaluated the battery temperature at different heating techniques. They specified the internal heating power of core heating as a linear function of time. The drawback of their model is that they modeled the heating process of battery as a pure physical heat transfer problem, which is unable to predict more complex nonlinear electrochemical-thermal coupling behaviors. But the cell internal heating is unignorable for heating study of battery at cold enviroment. In order to speed up the heating process, Chao-yang Wang and his co-wokers (Wang et al. 2016) designed a lithium-ion battery cell internally coupled with a Ni foil as an internal heater as Fig. 7.The self-heating circle is activited first to warm up the cell before it discharges to the load. It showed that the innovated self-heating structue enable a cell to be warmed up from −20 °C to zero degrees Celsius less than 20 s at and within 30 s from −30 °C, which are totally acceptable for most customers. And it only consumed about 4% of the cell capacity, which can be neglected and could be less in real considering the low efficiency working of battery at low temperature if there is no quick heating device. However, it causes many challenges to insert many nickle foils into this battery in mass production process, and their cycle tests demonstrate that the self-heating cells survive 500 self-heating test cycles at −30 °C, 1,000 cycles at 45 °C and 2,500 cycles at 25 °C, which is still little far away from the requrement of commerical EV thus it needs better improvement for application to EV because its short lifetime, i.e. higher cost.
Fig. 7

Principle of rapid self-heating Li-ion battery (Wang et al. 2016)

Three internal heating methods including internal heating, convectional heating and mutual pulse heating were discussed by Ji and Wang (2013) as shown in Fig. 5. Mutual pulse heating utilized output power of cell and heats another group of cells internally, namely the battery cells are divided into two groups and each of them is able to charge or discharge to each other alternatively. Because the charing voltage must be higher than the discharge voltage, they disigned a DC – DC converter to increase cell’s discharge voltage when working at discharging mode. In order to keep the capacity of each group at a balanced level, the designed controller of battery pack switch the charge/discharge modes of the two groups at an certain intervals of a period. The mutual pulse heating strategy enable the internal heating realized by cell self output power. A portion energy of the discharging group warms up the charging group through its internal resistance. Their study showed that the mutual heating consumps least battery power as shown in Fig. 6. In spite of its advantages including low maintenance, high reliability, uniform temperature distribution and short heating time, the whole system will become more complicated due to the requirement of special circuit and control design which will increase complexity and cost accordingly. In addition, pulse heating maybe cause aging issue because of the possible lithium plating problem.

Study on hybird energy system for low temperature performance features

Manystudies focus on how to optimize the energy and power output of battery, because one of the major problems of battery comes from how to meet its peak power need. Even for consumer electronics, most of the battery accidents come from sudden high power output. This issue is more serious in EV/HEV application, as various factors such as driving habit, acceleration, road condition, etc., cause the power output changing rapidly. Because the discharge process of battery is an electrochemical reaction, it is good at discharging at constant rate. But this slow discharging feature can not meet the need of sudden power consumption caused by acceleration of EV.

Same problems happen when the high current generated by braking has to charge back to battery, because most of the commerical battery avaiable could not support high rate charging which could have damage effect to electrolytes and electronodes. Howerver, this acceleration/braking often happens for EV especially in urban driving, which can shorten the life of the batteries. Therefore, in order to complement this shortage of battery, several studies have tried to design a hyrbide energy storage system (HESS), which integrates battery with EES technologies that are good at power output. Capacitors and fly-wheel are two of most practical options to combine with battery and could be integrated in EV.

Electrical energy can be stored in form of electric field by capacitors which consist two parallel plates divided by an insulator. Ultracapicitor (UC) is a special capacitor that can store much more energy than other capacitors at a low voltage, which can fill the gap between electrolytic capacitors and rechargable batteries. Typically the capacity of UC can be 10 to 100 times bigger than nomal electrolytic capacitors, and is able to accept and deliver charge much faster than batteries, and has many more charge and discharge cycles than batteries. As there is no electrchemical reaction happens, UC has longer cycle life than batteries and wider working temperature range (Figs. 8 and 9).
Fig. 8

Heating strategies of internal heating, convectional heating, and mutual pulse heating

Fig. 9

Comparison of heating strategies using battery power

Therefore, several studies could be founded for the conmination of battery and UC to supply both energy and power in an optimal way. The most simple and major combination architectures (Pay and Baghzouz 2003) for HESS with battery and capacitors is shown in Fig. 10, where the UC and battery are connected in paralle with DC bus. The results showed that it is able to get rid of big current passing through the battery bank. However, the drawback of this pattern is not able to controll the power distribution between the battery and UC. Wang et al. (2014) proposed a new pattern for HESS as shown in Fig. 11, which could lower the necessary power capacity of the bi-directional DC-DC- converter and fully meet the power need of DC bus. In order to reduce the size of the battery-UC system and its capacity loss, Li et al. (2014) optimized a semi-active battery/UC HESS for EV using Heath Hofmann multi-objective method. The strategy of their proposed design is to make sure that the voltage of UC is higher than battery, in which battery will only discharge power directly when its voltage higher than UC. As a result, the load profile of battery was flattened. Addtionally, regeneration energy from braking is only allowed to charge UC, which prevented the battery from frequent and high current charging to extend its lifetime. The combination pattern of UC and battery could be classified into three types: passive, semi-active and fully active. The semi-active pattern that includes only one DC/DC convertor has been regonized as most widely employed pattern by several researchers (Li et al. 2014; Burke 2011; Ashtiani 2006; Capasso 2015).
Fig. 10

architecture of HESS with battery and UC

Fig. 11

Proposed HESS pattern by (Wang et al. 2014)

Some studies (Li et al. 2014; Hofmann et al. 2015; Kim et al. 2008) discussed thermal effect to the HESS and heating strategy for HESS in subzero enviroment, but comaring to optimization of power and energy output for HESS, how to combine different UC and battery technologies with various temperature range into one HESS that can cover work over wider range of temperature is still insuffficient.

Except for UC another physical energy storage that has high power specific is flywheel. A flywheel is a special mechanical device to store kinetic energy using rotary wheel. The mount of energy stored in a flywheel is a function of the square of wheel speed and its weight. The electric machine coupled to the wheel functions as a motor or a generator when it is charging or discharing respectively as Fig. 12. Thanks to the vacuum chamber and improved magnetic bearing, the efficience of recent flywheel has been up to over 90%. Plenty of successful application for flywheel have been reported in different fields. Jiancheng et al. (2002) reproted the contribution of flywheel to power quality improvement due to its quick response which makes it possible to take or get power from grid quickly. Becasue of the fast response and frequent charge-discharge specification, flywheel can supply more than two times of frequency regulation for each unit power, while reducing GHG in 50% (Hawkins 2011; Boicea 2014). Due to its low specific energy and energy density, flywheel is not possible to supply the whole energy needed for EV. But it can help to assist ICE vehicle when it needs great acceleration or climbs uphill in HEV. At che same time, flywheel can temperly store the regenated energy from braking and discharge to assist the powertrain when it is necessary, which increase the total energy efficiency of ICE (Liu and Jiang 2007). In space exploration that is almost the most harsh environment for all EES as discussed above, combination of flywheel with batteries has been proved to improve the eficiency and reduce the spacecraft mass and cost (Liu and Jiang 2007). Meanwhile, except for supplying solar energy stroage, flywheel also function with attitude control for satellites (Babuska et al. 2004). The most successful commerical application of flywheel comes from uninterruptible power supply (UPS), which fill the 10 -15 s gap between the shut down of gri and the start of backup power source. For the UPS application needs longer time, flywheel are usually combined with batteries, which can use flywheel to work for short time power intermit and batteries for longer time. This combination can prevent battery from frequet charge-discharge which will reduce the lifetime of battery (DOE/EE. Flywheel Energy Storage 2003). This hybrid energy storage pattern in UPS mainly focused on lasting time aspect. Comparing to the limited researches about the imporvment caused by combination of UC and batteries, it is worse little studies to investigate the advantages and disadvantages due to the combination of battery and flywheel. Hossam and Ahmed 2017) developed a novel Flywheel-based Fast Charging Station (FFCS) employing both the fly-wheel and battery in the application of fast charging station for electrical vehicle including buses and ship. They designed a smart controller to coordinate the power streams among the quick chargers, the flywheel, solar panles and the network. This hybrid system can supply optimized power and energy solution by employing both the advantages of fly-wheel and battery system, which make it possible to supply quick charing even in remote area without upgrade of power grid. That study did not emphasize the wide operation temperature of flywheel, which could be also considered as an another advantage of combination of LiB battery and flywheel. Future studies are still necessary to exploit its thermal features. For example, the heat generated from rotor loss and stator loss (L. Z. a. a. P. M. Co Huynh 2007) is absolute waste heat for flywheel. But possible utiliztion of this wate heat to warm up the battery bank can be considered in the future study to improve the thermal performance of hybrided ESS with flywheel and battery for stational application. Of course, due to the short storage time of flywheel and its lower specifice energy, it is still difficult to apply this combition to transportation field.
Fig. 12

Cut view of the flywheel energy storage system (Hossam and Ahmed 2017)

However, no matter the combination patten or employed technologies, most HESS studies focus on optimizing the power and energy. There is little papers studied the advantage of HESS produced by the combination of different EES technologies. Keil and Jossen (2014), comparied three HESS configurations:a) high-energy LiB & two layer electric capacitor, b) LiB & a lithium-ion capacitor, and c) high energy LiB & a high-power LiB. At −10 °C and − 20 °C, the pattern a) and c) were able to increase power output capability and extend driving range accordingly. In 2016 (Jossen et al. 2016), they extended their experimental researches on HESSs to show the impact of these developments for improved performance of EV at low-temperature. Both configurations of pattern a) and c) enable driving at −20 °C, which was considered as impossible without hybridization in this research. However, in extreme cold area the temperature in winter often falls lower than −20 °C, which is beyond the temperature limit of most commercial LiB. Therefore, possible hybrid design combining with different EES technologies that differ in various temperature range need further research in order to supply economic energy storage solution in cold area.

Conclusion

Energy storage in harsh environment face challenges from pressure, vibration and thermal. The issue of pressure and vibration can solved by improved structure design of package or housing of battery. However, the thermal issues are more challenging especially the low temperature, which has lesss studies than heat dispation. Plenty research to improve the performance at low temperature have been conducted on cell levels and shows attactive potential specification. But it is still far from commerilization because its special materials requested. Hybrid energy systems have been studied by several researches to optimize the power and energy performance of energy system from syste level. But combination of existing battery technology which has great possibility to solve the low temperature issue of energy system economically and reliablly is still lack of study.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear ScienceUniversity of Ontario Institute of TechnologyOshawaCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Engineering and Applied ScienceUniversity of Ontario Institute of TechnologyOshawaCanada

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