Explained: How Electric Vehicles Can Be Enhanced With Solid State Batteries

Solid-state batteries can be a game changer for electric vehicles (EVs), storing more energy, charging faster and offering greater safety than liquid lithium ion batteries, helping to accelerate the shift from fossil fuel-powered cars.

How are they different from liquid lithium ion batteries?

Solid-state batteries use thin layers of solid electrolytes, which carry lithium ions between the electrodes.

Lithium-ion (lithium-ion) batteries use liquid electrolytes and have separators that prevent the positive electrode from contacting the negative electrode.

Currently, solid state batteries are used in devices such as pacemakers and smart watches.

Mass production of these batteries for EVs takes three to five years, experts say.

What are the advantages of solid state batteries?

They are likely to be safer and more stable than liquid lithium-ion batteries, in which the electrolyte is volatile and flammable at high temperatures. This makes electric vehicles using lithium-ion batteries more vulnerable to fire and chemical leaks.

Greater stability means faster loading and reduces the need for bulky safety equipment.

They can hold more energy than liquid lithium-ion batteries, helping to speed the shift from gasoline vehicles to EVs because drivers wouldn’t need to stop as often to charge their cars.

Why is it difficult to mass produce solid state batteries?

Automakers and technology companies have produced solid-state lithium-ion battery cells one at a time in a lab, but have so far failed to scale to mass production.

It is difficult to design a solid electrolyte that is stable, chemically inert and still a good conductor of ions between electrodes. They are expensive to manufacture and are subject to cracking due to the brittleness of the electrolytes as they expand and contract during use.

Currently, a solid-state cell costs about eight times more to produce than a liquid lithium-ion battery, experts say.

Who is trying to make them?

Japanese Toyota is one of the first to mass-produce solid-state batteries. She said she is struggling with their short shelf life but still plans to start producing them in the mid-2020s.

In addition to Toyota’s internal research, it has teamed up with Japan’s Panasonic to develop these powerpacks with its Prime Planet Energy & Solutions venture.

At about the same time, Volkswagen Germany invested in the American battery company QuantumScape, supported by Bill Gates, which plans to launch its battery in 2024 for VW’s EVs and, eventually, for other automakers.

VW says the battery will offer about 30 percent more range than a liquid battery and will charge up to 80 percent capacity in 12 minutes, which is less than half the faster charging time of ion cells. currently available lithium.

Stellantis, formed in January from the merger of Italian-American automaker Fiat Chrysler and French PSA, has a venture called Automotive Cells Co with TotalEnergies and a partnership with China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL). Stellantis plans to release solid state batteries by 2026.

Ford Motor and BMW AG invested in startup Solid Power, which claims its solid-state technology can provide 50% more energy density than current lithium-ion batteries. Ford hopes to reduce battery costs by 40% by mid-decade.

South Korea’s Hyundai Motor, which invested in startup SolidEnergy Systems, plans to mass-produce solid-state batteries by 2030.

Samsung SDI, an affiliate of Samsung, is working on developing solid state batteries.

Tesla, the EV market leader, has so far not said it wants to develop or use solid-state cells in its cars.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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