Can Solid-State Batteries cause the next technology revolution ?


June 1, 2021

# Technology , OTA

Unfortunately, internal combustion engines are slowly taken over by the electric vehicle industry as electric vehicles promise a cleaner and pollution-less alternative. And with the expanding sector of electric vehicles, the need for better and more efficient batteries are also on the rise. Lithium-ion batteries have been the energy source for electric vehicles for a long time now. But now, research carried out in the field of batteries has proposed an alternative that could replace the Lithium-Ion battery. This would be the Solid-State Battery. The research on solid-state batteries is still underway and in its blooming stage, but researchers and developers have stated that it has enormous potential to replace and reign over Lithium-ion batteries in the coming decades. So what exactly�is a solid-state battery and how is it different from the traditional Lithium-ion battery? A solid-state battery uses solid electrodes and solid electrolyte as compared to the liquid or polymer gel electrolytes used in lithium-ion or lithium polymer batteries, Despite Solid electrolytes having been discovered in the 19th century, many challenges such as low energy densities have hindered the commercial application�of these. It was Michael Faraday, who laid the foundations for solid-state electrolyte research and development when he discovered the solid electrolytes silver sulfide�and�lead(II) fluoride, which created the primary base of solid-state Ionics upon which further research was founded. By the late 1950s, many electrochemical systems used solid electrolytes. Silver ion was used, but it was also characterized by some undesirable qualities, including low energy density and cell voltages, and high internal resistance. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in the 1990s, developed A new class of solid-state electrolyte, which was then used to make thin-film lithium-ion batteries. The range of electric vehicles has always been a matter of concern when it comes to those interested in electric vehicles. The electric car that tops the list with maximum range, is the Tesla Model S which boasts of a range of 379 miles between charges. Since an electric vehicle with a greater range is bound to attract customers the most, there has been a promotion of high-end research for ways to increase the range. Solid-state batteries have an advantage over traditional batteries in this matter as a solid-state electrolyte ensures a better conductivity than liquid electrolytes almost by 25 - 30%. �It also has higher power and energy density and can decrease the charging time required. Solid-state batteries also promise a longer battery life cycle and are relatively safer than traditional batteries as it has no risk of catching fire as well as no toxic chemicals present in it. They are also more compact in size and shall contribute to making the vehicles lighter in weight. A decrease in cost-per-kilowatt-hour is also a practical advantage of solid-state batteries. Despite being difficult to make as compared to Lithium-ion batteries, research on more feasible ways promise a better future for solid-state batteries. �Materials that are in use for solid-state batteries include glass, ceramics (e.g., oxides, sulfides, phosphates), and solid polymers. Solid-State batteries being developed now can revolutionize the electric vehicle industry, because of their high capacity and energy density. They are already used in smaller devices like pacemakers, wearable devices, and RFID, but are yet to be put into application for larger industrial applications.   COMPARISON OF SOLID-STATE BATTERIES WITH CONVENTIONAL BATTERIES Let us take a closer look at the most common type of batteries in use today, and how the solid-state battery is different from them. Lithium-ion batteries Lithium-ion batteries, as the name suggests, have the element Lithium forming the main component of their electrochemistry. They are used widely in portable electronic devices as well as for aerospace applications. Working of lithium-ion batteries The anode and cathode store lithium. When a lithium-ion battery is plugged into a device or equipment, the electrolyte carries positively charged lithium ions from the anode to the cathode and vice versa through the separator. This causes the cathode to become more positively charged than the anode, and hence now, the cathode attracts negatively charged electrons towards it. The separator includes an electrolyte, which forms a catalyst. It blocks the flow of electrons inside the battery. Lead-acid battery

It is the first type of rechargeable battery ever created.� These are the most common type of batteries used in automobiles and photovoltaic systems because they can provide high current and their cost is relatively low. Each cell consists of lead electrodes in a sulfuric acid solution They store only about 25 watt-hours per kg. Compared to later types of rechargeable batteries, Lead-Acid batteries have the lowest energy density. One lead electrode is coated with lead oxide.

Nickel metal hydride battery A nickel-metal hydride battery (NiMH or Ni�MH) is a type of�rechargeable battery. The chemical reaction at the positive electrode is similar to that of the�nickel-cadmium cell�(NiCd), as both use�nickel oxide hydroxide�(NiOOH). However, the negative electrodes use a hydrogen-absorbing�alloy�instead of�cadmium. The battery is more delicate and trickier to charge than NiCd. But they have a high energy density, although much less than�lithium-ion batteries. They are also durable and low-cost rechargeable batteries. Solid-state batteries promise increased running range, better energy efficiency, compactness of size, and lighter weight as compared to conventional lithium-ion batteries. The solid-state batteries can also store and provide more energy in a fixed volume as compared to a lithium-ion battery of the same volume. They also shall take lesser time to be charged than Li-ion batteries. Solid-State batteries would not require monitoring, control, and cooling systems that are a must in lithium-ion batteries, and hence they are a safer choice. However, the cost of Solid-state batteries can be expected to be higher. The cost of Lithium-ion batteries has reduced greatly as compared to the early 2000s and hence the competition between Lithium-ion batteries and solid-state batteries in terms of the cost would be high. The researchers are working on ways to improve the effective design and manufacture of solid-state batteries, so they can be mass-produced at a more affordable rate. Another aspect that needs to be researched more is their stability and methods have to be developed to ensure that they are stable for commercial and practical use.   WORKING OF A SOLID-STATE BATTERY The flow of ions causes a chemical reaction between the battery�s materials called �Redox� where, when discharging power, oxidation occurs at the anode to create compounds with free electrons, which deliver electric energy, and reduction at the cathode in which compounds gain electrons and thus store power. The reverse process occurs during battery charging. When delivering power, that is when discharging, solid-state batteries have the positively charged ions travel through the electrolyte from the negative electrode (anode) to the positive one (cathode). This leads to the accumulation of positive charges at the cathode, which attracts electrons from the anode. But as the electrons can�t travel through the electrolyte they have to travel across a circuit and thus deliver power to the device connected to it. During charging, the opposite happens with ions flowing to the anode building up a charge that�attracts electrons which are pulled to it across a circuit from the cathode. When no more ions will flow to the negative electrode, the battery is considered fully charged.   SOLID BATTERY IN BUSINESS Toyota has 1,000 patents in solid-state battery technology and I the lead researcher in the field. Nissan also plans to develop its own solid-state battery that will power a non-simulation vehicle by 2028. Also, around 2012, Volkswagen began its journey into solid-state battery research, by partnering with pioneers in the research of solid-state batteries. Samsung has created a solid-state battery that could last for many years and can provide a range of about 500 miles for electric vehicles and which can be recharged more than 1000 times. The researchers at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) and the Samsung R&D Institute Japan (SRJ) decided to replace the lithium metal anodes used in solid-state batteries with a thin silver-carbon layer. This solves a major problem which is the dendrites that form when lithium-metal anodes are used. Dendrites are tiny crystal spikes that penetrate the electrolyte and results in a short circuit while charging. The formation of dendrites shortens the life expectancy of solid-state batteries, but now, this issue can be solved by using the silver-carbon layer. Using the silver carbon also results in a higher capacity of the battery as well as makes the battery safer to use. This innovation can literally revolutionize the world of electric vehicles. Samsung SDI, Solid Power, Quantumscape, and Toyota currently lead the solid-state battery development. A research paper published by BMW says that the future of anode materials lies within mainly three materials, Lithium, Graphite/Silicon, and Graphite. This is because these materials are the ideal choice, as they can be used to make thicker anodes which are crucial when matched with higher capacity cathodes. The market for solid-state batteries is expected to grow phenomenally by around 2027 and is expected to have vast potential, as shown in the above figure. SOLID-STATE BATTERY TECHNOLOGY IN INDIA Omega Seiki has announced that it will be introducing solid-state battery technology in India in partnership with the New York-based C4V to introduce the new battery technology in the country. Dr. Deb Mukherji, Managing Director, Omega Seiki Mobility, added, "C4V India is going to be a major player in solid-state batteries globally, not only for India as we will export our vehicles soon. Not only are they environmentally friendly but also have a higher energy density, allowing our vehicles to go the extra mile. This is a top-notch technology enhancement for our vehicles and as Technology in Motion company, we are very pleased to be the first in the market to work with the solid-state technology." CHALLENGES FACED BY SOLID-STATE BATTERY Research in Solid State battery still has a long way to go, to accomplish mainstream commercial application of it. The challenges faced by solid-state battery technology include energy and power density, durability, material costs, sensitivity, and stability. Internal resistance is also an obstacle to overcome. Many leading technology firms have researched more efficient porous separators and solid electrolytes that can remove dendrite formation and impedance. Solid-State batteries offer innumerable benefits, yet it faces some challenges that need to be addressed before it can be widely adopted by the industries. Do you think that Solid-state batteries can change the face of battery electric vehicles? Let us know in the comment section below!

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