Endeavors in electrochemical energy storage are industrial masochism for the same reason they are academic hedonism: a working, rechargeable battery represents a tight coupling of multiphase phenomena across chemical, electrical, thermal and mechanical domains. Despite these couplings, most treatments of batteries in the academic literature emphasize the material challenges and opportunities as opposed to the system level workings.
Yet understanding and examining the physical dynamics of cells in a “scaled context” is still a worthwhile academic endeavor. The battery as a system presents problems that are difficult to decouple, but the study of such problems can introduce new opportunities and inform electrochemical reactor designs and material utilization strategies.
By studying borrowing liberally from over a century of scaled electrochemical primary metal production, we have learned how to compensate for certain material disadvantages and to create batteries and components that can meet performance targets which challenge traditional materials-first strategies.