Why all-solid-state batteries ultimately power laptops and EVs

Lithium-ion batteries are essential to our lives and the transition to clean energy. Mobile phones, laptops, electric vehicles (EVs), and home energy storage systems all run on these ubiquitous batteries.

Researchers and manufacturers We lowered the price of Lithium ion battery We believe it has increased by 90% over the last 10 years and can be even cheaper.I believe they can do it too Make even better lithium batteries..

Today’s Lithium ion battery A liquid electrolyte is used to move ions between the cathode and anode during discharge or charging. However, liquid electrolytes are flammable and interfere with the use of materials that can extend battery life. Researchers believe that one solution is the transition from liquid electrolytes to solid electrolytes. These so-called solid-state lithium batteries are safer, last longer, and extend the range of EVs.

All-solid-state battery researcher Kelsey Hatzel
Kelsey Hatzell, an energy storage researcher in the laboratory of Vanderbilt University. (Photo courtesy of John Russell / Vanderbilt University)

Kelsey Hatzell is at the forefront of efforts to develop commercial solid-state lithium batteries. Winner of the prestigious National Science Foundation Early Career Award and Sloan Research Fellowship, Hatzel is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University.She Enroll in the faculty July 1st at Princeton University’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.

In conversation with Energy monitor, Hatzel explains why the industry is moving to all-solid-state batteries.

Your research focuses on solid lithium batteries. How is it different from the batteries that people are accustomed to?

The batteries that people use in electronic devices are lithium-ion batteries. They store charge by moving lithium ions, which are positively charged ions, back and forth between two different electrodes. The medium that moves ions in a battery is a substance called an electrolyte. The electrolyte is usually a liquid.

Take the lithium-based salt, dissolve it in a solvent and pipette it, or inject it into the battery. This is the source of lithium ions in battery systems. A medium through which ions can move.

Ions move very quickly in a liquid, making them ideal for gaining power density and charging batteries quickly, but the problem is that the liquid (in this case, an organic solvent) is flammable. We are aiming to obtain a solid electrolyte in which ions move in a solid instead of moving in a liquid.

Besides safety, there are many reasons to use solid electrolytes. Liquid electrolytes decompose, deteriorate very quickly, and have a very short life, so materials that make batteries last longer cannot be combined with liquid electrolytes.

If you want to make your battery last longer and introduce new materials that don’t need to be recharged multiple times a day, solid electrolytes are a way to introduce new high energy density materials.

Do you think solid lithium batteries have a smaller environmental footprint than current batteries? Is it easier to recycle at the end of their useful life?

Solid electrolytes are lithium-based, and there are some predictions suggesting that all-solid-state batteries may require more lithium than traditional batteries. This is highly architecture dependent. This may not be the case if the all-solid-state battery can be anodeless.

One of the advantages of all-solid-state batteries is that they can theoretically take advantage of bipolar stacking. This significantly reduces the number of current collectors (for example, metals and inactive materials in batteries). However, this has not yet been proven.

Some studies suggest that all-solid-state batteries may be easier to recycle. However, solid-state battery recycling is a “new” field of study, and much is still unknown.

If all-solid-state batteries are commercialized, will they be replaced everywhere that lithium-ion batteries are currently used, such as portable electronic devices, EVs, and household batteries?

You will surely find someone who says that solid state will replace today’s state-of-the-art technology. I think you will find various uses. Today’s lithium-ion batteries are always present, primarily because they are very cheap and even cheaper.

When we started researching batteries in 2010, the cost was $ 1,000 per kilowatt hour (kWh). It is currently at $ 140 / kWh and is projected to drop to $ 50 / kWh. This is mainly due to the Gigafactory expanding the battery. There is no sign that conventional lithium-ion batteries will run out.

All-solid-state batteries play a first role in portable electronics and applications where safety is paramount. Opportunities will expand as you understand how to create an all-solid-state battery with a flexible footprint and platform. The Holy Grail is definitely an EV application because the real advantage is to reach the energy-dense anode.

Talking about EVs, most people who can’t get an EV, even though no one drives 400 miles a day, say it’s because they don’t have enough range. People still want that flexibility. All-solid-state batteries are the means to achieve that range.

What do you need to commercialize an all-solid-state battery? Is there an increase in funding for research teams like you? Are you raising more funding from the federal government through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy? Automotive Partnership with the manufacturer?

The latter two are really important. We have been working with Toyota on some basic science research, which is important in terms of fundamentally connecting with end users and understanding major challenges. Often we are in basic science. We will focus on this question, but we need to work with a greater sense of mission. There is a lot of science to solve, but we need to point it in the right direction. From an application point of view, what the real problem is is always amazing.

Four or five years ago, we only moved ions in solid electrolytes. The current question is whether the solid-state electrolyte works in the battery system and whether the operating conditions of the all-solid-state battery are different.

Understanding how to operate an all-solid-state battery requires a lot of money from the federal government. This is a very young field. From an experimental point of view, it’s a love work, but it’s definitely a labor-intensive work.

Electric battery close-up
Lithium battery pack for electric vehicles and power connection (Photo courtesy of asharkyu via Shutterstock)

What challenges do you have to overcome in the next few years?

The first is the reproducibility of the results and the confirmation between laboratories. You need an all-solid-state battery that works extremely well in thousands of cycles. Even for those who are doing battery research and start-ups, the big challenge is the possibility of misrepresenting data. This is very harmful to the entire community. In many cases, when a big brand startup announces something, many people will follow it. If it deviates once, it will deviate 100 miles from its original position.

It is imperative to push the boundaries of testing solid-state electrolytes in solid-state batteries using interlaboratory studies, method convergence in test protocols, and realistic operating conditions. The more transparent and open access players you have on the field, the faster the field will grow. It’s always challenging from an industrial point of view, but it’s often necessary for progress.

What can consumers expect from EVs with all-solid-state batteries in terms of range and charging time?

Charging time is a really difficult issue. It depends on chemistry. People want to be able to charge in tens of minutes, but that depends on the chemistry of the battery.

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People care about range, but the next generation will be more concerned about battery life. Why does the mindset change? Well, if we start integrating your EV into your home, you’ll be dynamically charging the battery or integrating the car battery with the grid. The life cycle is much more important. It plays an important role in the chemistry we aim for.

We are aiming for a solid state in terms of energy density and range, but over the next decade, consumers will adopt behavior that gets used to stopping for a 30-minute walk or restroom break for charging. It doesn’t mean that you did.

In theory, an all-solid-state battery has a range of 400 miles. That shouldn’t be a problem. However, the issue at this point is the life cycle, which will be equally important in the long run for all-solid-state batteries to be installed in EVs.

This article first appeared Energy monitor, Independent voices investigating the politics and economy behind the departure from fossil fuels and the adoption of renewable energy and climate neutrality.

Why all-solid-state batteries ultimately power laptops and EVs

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