Continuum Mechanics and Thermodynamics

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 553–572 | Cite as

A nonlocal species concentration theory for diffusion and phase changes in electrode particles of lithium ion batteries

  • Tao Zhang
  • Marc Kamlah
Original Article


A nonlocal species concentration theory for diffusion and phase changes is introduced from a nonlocal free energy density. It can be applied, say, to electrode materials of lithium ion batteries. This theory incorporates two second-order partial differential equations involving second-order spatial derivatives of species concentration and an additional variable called nonlocal species concentration. Nonlocal species concentration theory can be interpreted as an extension of the Cahn–Hilliard theory. In principle, nonlocal effects beyond an infinitesimal neighborhood are taken into account. In this theory, the nonlocal free energy density is split into the penalty energy density and the variance energy density. The thickness of the interface between two phases in phase segregated states of a material is controlled by a normalized penalty energy coefficient and a characteristic interface length scale. We implemented the theory in COMSOL Multiphysics\(^{\circledR }\) for a spherically symmetric boundary value problem of lithium insertion into a \(\hbox {Li}_x\hbox {Mn}_2\hbox {O}_4\) cathode material particle of a lithium ion battery. The two above-mentioned material parameters controlling the interface are determined for \(\hbox {Li}_x\hbox {Mn}_2\hbox {O}_4\), and the interface evolution is studied. Comparison to the Cahn–Hilliard theory shows that nonlocal species concentration theory is superior when simulating problems where the dimensions of the microstructure such as phase boundaries are of the same order of magnitude as the problem size. This is typically the case in nanosized particles of phase-separating electrode materials. For example, the nonlocality of nonlocal species concentration theory turns out to make the interface of the local concentration field thinner than in Cahn–Hilliard theory.


Nonlocality Phase-field approach Phase segregation Interface Lithium ion batteries 


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Applied MaterialsKarlsruhe Institute of TechnologyEggenstein-LeopoldshafenGermany

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