Feasibility of Chemically Modified Cellulose Nanofiber Membranes as Lithium-Ion Battery Separators

Hyeyun Kim, Ulriika Mattinen, Valentina Guccini, Haidong Liu, Germán Salazar-Alvarez, Rakel Wreland Lindström, Göran Lindbergh, Ann Cornell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Chemical modification of cellulose is beneficial to produce highly porous lithium-ion battery (LIB) separators, but introduction of high charge density adversely affects its electrochemical stability in a LiNi1/3Mn1/3Co1/3O2 (NMC)/graphite full cell. In this study, the influence of carboxylate functional groups in 2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine-1-oxyl-mediated oxidized cellulose nanofibers (TOCNs) on the electrochemical performances of the LIB separator was investigated. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and in operando mass spectrometry measurements were used to elucidate the cause of failure of the batteries containing TOCN separators in the presence and absence of sodium counterions in the carboxylate groups and additives. For the TOCN separator with sodium carboxylate functional groups, it seems that Na deposition is the dominant reason for poor electrochemical stability of the cell thereof. The poor performance of the protonated TOCN separator, attributed to a high amount of gas evolution, is dramatically improved by adding 2 wt % of vinylene carbonate (VC) because of suppressed gas evolution. Unveiling the failure mechanism of the TOCN separators and successively implementing the strategies to improve performance, for example, removing Na, adding VC, and adjusting cycling rates, enable a remarkable cycling performance in the NMC/graphite full cell at ≈2 C (3 mA/cm2) of a fast discharging rate. Despite the aforementioned efforts and compromises required, an increased charge density of the TOCN is beneficial to acquire a mechanically stronger separator. In conclusion, the manufacturing process of cellulose nanofibers needs to be carefully adjusted to acquire a desired separator property. To the best of our knowledge, it is first reported to perform operando gas evolution measurements to systematically investigate the electrochemical stability of nanocellulose as an LIB separator material. The results elucidate not only the challenges for extensive applications of hygroscopic biomaterials for commercial LIBs but also the practical solutions to achieve high electrochemical stability of the materials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41211-41222
Number of pages12
JournalACS applied materials & interfaces
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • cellulose
  • gas evolution
  • in operando mass spectrometry
  • Li-ion batteries
  • separator


Dive into the research topics of 'Feasibility of Chemically Modified Cellulose Nanofiber Membranes as Lithium-Ion Battery Separators'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this