Solid State Batteries: The Next Big Thing in The EV space?
Electric mobility is the future of travel. In the last year alone, global electric vehicle sales grew by 43%, even beating petrol and diesel vehicles in some countries. This shift is welcome as governments around the world are exploring eco-friendly travel modes. But electric vehicles are heavily limited by their power source; the battery.
Most electric vehicles today use a Li-ion battery system which comes with a few drawbacks. Apart from the obvious ones (like bulkiness and low energy density), they are also more prone to failure at higher temperatures and have high charging times. To solve this problem, electric vehicle (EV) companies are exploring solid state batteries.
Solid state batteries are similar in structure to Li-ion batteries. However, while Li-ion batteries use heavy liquid electrolytes, solid state batteries use solid electrolytes like glass, ceramics, or other conductive materials. This shift to solid electrolytes has shown some significant improvements in battery performance and safety.
Solid State Batteries Provide More Range
The driving range has always been a sore point for electric vehicles. Despite their environmental benefits, EVs have lost out to petrol and diesel vehicles when it comes to distance. Furthermore, this has been one of the main reasons for the slow adoption of electric vehicles, as owners have to stop at frequent intervals to recharge their vehicles. Running out of charge could also be dangerous if vehicle charging points are not prominent in the area, making long distance driving problematic. This is where solid state batteries appear to be the better option.
Since solid state batteries have a solid electrolyte, they are 25-30% more conductive than their liquid electrolyte counterparts. This reduces charging times significantly. More importantly, they have a higher energy density, which means they can carry more charge per volume, allowing the EV to cover longer distances in a single charge.
QuantumScape is a player in the solid state battery space and promises to answer the range problem. Backed by big names like Volkswagen and Bill Gates, QuantumScape wants to build a battery with an energy density of 1000 Wh/L, which would improve the range of electric vehicles by 50-80%. They are also designed to be lightweight and compact to accommodate more batteries, which increases the time between each recharge. Their batteries also have a 90% life cycle efficiency after 1000 recharges, which is currently the best in the industry.
On the other hand, ProLogium Technologies has been a trusted manufacturer of solid state battery cells for the last 15 years. The company realized at an early stage that in order to optimize battery power, they have to optimize battery storage. Therefore, they developed the Multi-Axis Bipolar Pack technology, or MAB, which reduced the battery size by 50%, battery weight by 30%, and even reduced the manufacturing cost by 30%. The low cost is great news for the EV industry as this means vehicles can be equipped with cheaper batteries, reducing vehicle costs.
Solid State Batteries Make EVs Safer
Solid state batteries are much safer than their Li-ion kin. Li-ion batteries can only function inside a limited temperature range. Furthermore, the electrolyte used is a flammable liquid gel or polymer, making them more susceptible to fire. However, solid state batteries use solid electrolytes which make them less prone to serious failures. Also, they can be installed with fail safes that isolate a cell or a set of cells in the event of damage. This prevents serious damage to the vehicle in case of a fire and also makes battery repairs easier. Moreover, they can also function in a broader temperature range, making them more suitable for use in heavier vehicles like trucks, buses, etc.
Founded in 2012, Solid Power has grown to become one of the leading developers of solid state batteries in the world. e-Mobility is synchronous with their company motto and is seen in the specific industries their batteries are designed to service. Their all-solid-state batteries, or ASSBs, have 50% more energy density than the best available rechargeable batteries in the market. Also, since they don’t depend on a liquid electrolyte, the batteries are inherently more compact, simplified, and safer. Their compact size allows space for more batteries, which means a higher driving range for EVs.
Another company looking to revolutionize the e-mobility space is Factorial Energy. Recently, they introduced the first of its kind 40 Amp-hour solid-state battery cell for electric vehicles. Powered by their proprietary solid electrolyte material called Factorial Electrolyte System Technology™ (or FESTTM), the battery promises safe and reliable performance with high voltage and high energy density. Their batteries are developed to yield 20-50% more driving range while complying with OEM performance requirements. Moreover, their manufacturing technology can be easily integrated into the existing Li-ion battery infrastructure.
The Future of Solid State Batteries in the EV Space
As more and more countries explore greener, eco-friendly solutions, the shift to electric vehicles is inevitable. However, electric vehicles come with their own constraints, especially at the consumer side.
Although the running costs of electric vehicles are much lower than petrol and diesel vehicles, their acquisition costs are much higher. Hence, the consumers are hesitant to dish out large sums of money for electric vehicles that come with a lesser range as compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Even with solid state batteries, which provide a significant increase to the range, the cost will only increase as the manufacturing costs of solid state batteries are still higher than Li-ion batteries.
However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Major automobile manufacturers like Ford and BMW are investing money in solid state battery technology. This will allow manufacturers to invest more time and effort into valuable research that will help reduce the manufacturing costs and improve the reliability of solid state battery electric vehicles, making them a more viable option in the future.
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