A comparative testing study of commercial 18650-format lithium-ion battery cells

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Demand for portable electronic and electrical devices has led to considerable growth in production of lithium-ion battery cells and the number of manufacturers thereof. However, due to lack of supplied information or independent verification, it is frequently difficult to compare cells based on available data. In this study, we conduct a comparative testing study on five types of 18650-format lithium-ion cells from three different commercial manufacturers, ranging from budget to high-performance cells. Key insights gathered in the comparison were that the tested budget cells frequently offer less than 20% of their rated capacity, that the budget cells degrade at a significantly higher proportional rate than other cells, and that certain high-performance cells exceed the size dimensions of the 18650-format by over 3%. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy testing showed the budget cells to have internal impedances several times higher than other cells, leading to notably increased heat generation and a significantly reduced cell efficiency. Differential capacity analysis found this high internal resistance to notably impede lithium intercalation processes. The presented methodology is intended as a base framework for conducting subsequent comparative testing studies for Li-ion cells.