Solid-State Batteries Could Power Electric Vehicle Breakthrough

August 13, 2019 by John O'Dell

Move over, lithium-ion batteries; solid-state technology is on the way. It looks to spur massive growth in electric vehicle acceptance.

The heavy weight and limited energy density of lithium-ion batteries contribute to the range anxiety that hampers public acceptance of electric vehicles.

But solid-state batteries will increase energy storage without adding weight or bulk. That will extend the range of electric vehicles. They also eliminate the flammability issues that are inherent in lithium-ion batteries.

Researchers say a solid-state battery pack could give electric vehicles 500 to 1,000 miles of range on a single charge. Automakers today struggle to reach 300 miles.

100 MILLION ELECTRIC VEHICLES

The technology is advancing rapidly and could be ready for commercial use within a few years. That’s the assessment of a report from ABI Research, a New York-based advanced-technologies research firm.

Solid-state technology could grow the global number of electric vehicles from 8 million last year to 100 million by 2028, the report said.

The batteries provide many benefits, the researchers said. They include greater longevity, reliability and energy density. The batteries are lighter and have less bulk than lithium-ion batteries. And they eliminate the fire risk posed by lithium-ion batteries’ flammable liquid electrolyte by replacing it with a solid material.

TESLA NOT GOING SOLID STATE

One outlier is EV pioneer Tesla.

The Fremont, Calif., company has bet heavily on lithium-ion technology. It is working on new lithium-ion chemistry with Dalhousie University in Canada. Tesla said the new technology offers the energy density of solid-state batteries while maintaining the same format as today’s lithium-ion cells.

That allows the current manufacturing equipment to make the batteries, enabling them to reach the market sooner than solid-state batteries.

Tesla operates the world’s largest lithium-ion battery factory in Reno, Nev.

BIG INVESTMENTS

Getting electron ions to flow freely through the solid electrolyte has been the major stumbling block solid-state battery developers have been working to eliminate.

Ford, Toyota, Daimler, Volkswagen, Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Hyundai are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in solid-state battery research and development. All build commercial trucks as well as passenger cars and light trucks.

BMW and startup luxury EV maker Fisker Inc. also are working on solid-state, as are several Chinese EV companies.

Automakers are investing in several U.S.-based solid-state battery-development companies, including Kentucky-based Solid Power and Ionic Materials of Massachusetts. Earlier this year, Volkswagen invested $100 million in QuantumScape, a Massachusetts-based solid-state battery developer.

Toyota has pursued solid-state battery development for years. It has a technology-sharing agreement with Suzuki, Subaru and Mazda. The automaker also has a joint-development pact with Nissan, Honda, battery maker Panasonic and the Japanese government.

SHRINKING TIMELINE

Just a few years ago, the auto industry considered solid-state EV battery development a distant goal. Now commercial application is rapidly approaching.

Toyota “would like to make sure that a solid-state battery can be unveiled to the public” in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, research director Shigeki Terashi said during a June briefing about the company’s EV plans.

ABI researchers see full-scale commercialization a bit further down the road, but still well within the next decade.

Meantime, they predict that an interim technology will emerge – lithium-ion batteries with liquid electrolytes and silicon, which increases energy density.

The report suggests that silicon-added batteries will dominate until 2026, at which point solid-state technology will be ready for widespread commercialization.

John O'Dell August 8, 2019
Electric truck developer Nikola Motor Co. has received a $1.7 million federal grant to pursue advanced fuel cell membrane assembly technology.

5 Responses

  1. Al D

    I won’t buy an EV with the current battery. It’s solid-state or bust for me. Not only will solid-state increase the range of small vehicles, reduce weight, reduce recharging time, and reduce risk of fire, they’ll do the same for electric and HFC trucks as well, giving them both the same advantages.

    Reply
  2. Anton Nym

    The new-and-improved battery tech is 3-5 years away. Every year. It’s called the breakthrough horizon. The problem is the same problem graphene has: The technology can do anything except leave the lab.

    Reply
  3. Jonathan Galt

    Batteries have been dropping in price every 6-7 years for 70 years. This is a universally observed technology progression does not stop until the limits of physics and / or the cost of raw materials and labor are reached. Those limits are at least 20 years out, by which time reliable unsubsidized energy from solar plus batteries will be 1/4 the cost of energy from coal or natural gas plants and electric vehicles will routinely have 1,000 mile range.

    Reply
  4. kevin mccune

    Can we finally say “Goodenough”? ( If you want to knight some people “Knight” him and his collaborator) I have been wondering is it possible to have an electrolyte solution that would dissolve the dendrites or a “self-conditioning battery?
    Of course if this SS tech catches on it would be a moot point.

    Reply

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