The intercalation of Li ions in natural graphite that was purified by chemical and thermal processes was investigated. A new chemical process was developed that involved a mixed aqueous solution containing 30% H2SO4 and 30% NHxFy heated to 90 °C. The results of this process are compared to those obtained by heating the natural graphite from 1500 to 2400 °C in an inert environment (thermal process). The first-cycle coulombic efficiency of the purified natural graphite obtained by the chemical process is 91 and 84% after the thermal process at 2400 °C. Grinding the natural graphite before or after purification had no significant effect on electrochemical performance at low currents. However, grinding to a very small particle size before purification permitted optimization of the size distribution of the particles, which gives rise to a more homogenous electrode. The impurities in the graphite play a role as microabrasion agents during grinding which enhances its hardness and improves its mechanical properties. Grinding also modifies the particle morphology from a 2- to a 3-D structure (similar in shape to a potato). This potato-shaped natural graphite shows high reversible capacity at high current densities (about 90% at 1 C rate). Our analysis suggests that thermal processing is considerably more expensive than the chemical process to obtain purified natural graphite.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering