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Title: The mechanics of pressed-pellet separators in molten salt batteries

We present a phenomenological constitutive model that describes the macroscopic behavior of pressed-pellet materials used in molten salt batteries. Such materials include separators, cathodes, and anodes. The purpose of this model is to describe the inelastic deformation associated with the melting of a key constituent, the electrolyte. At room temperature, all constituents of these materials are solid and do not transport cations so that the battery is inert. As the battery is heated, the electrolyte, a constituent typically present in the separator and cathode, melts and conducts charge by flowing through the solid skeletons of the anode, cathode, and separator. The electrochemical circuit is closed in this hot state of the battery. The focus of this report is on the thermal-mechanical behavior of the separator, which typically exhibits the most deformation of the three pellets during the process of activating a molten salt battery. Separator materials are composed of a compressed mixture of a powdered electrolyte, an inert binder phase, and void space. When the electrolyte melts, macroscopically one observes both a change in volume and shape of the separator that depends on the applied boundary conditions during the melt transition. Although porous flow plays a critical role in themore » battery mechanics and electrochemistry, the focus of this report is on separator behavior under flow-free conditions in which the total mass of electrolyte is static within the pellet. Specific poromechanics effects such as capillary pressure, pressure-saturation, and electrolyte transport between layers are not considered. Instead, a phenomenological model is presented to describe all such behaviors including the melting transition of the electrolyte, loss of void space, and isochoric plasticity associated with the binder phase rearrangement. The model is appropriate for use finite element analysis under finite deformation and finite temperature change conditions. The model reasonably describes the stress dependent volume and shape change associated with dead load compression and spring-type boundary conditions; the latter is relevant in molten salt batteries. Future work will transition the model towards describing the solid skeleton of the separator in the traditional poromechanics context.« less
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  1. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Sandia National Laboratories (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States