Producing efficient energetic sources, that keep up with the world’s demand, is a challenge that goes hand in hand, with creating means of energy storage. Conventional lithium-ion batteries have nearly reached their physical limits, restraining advances on electronics, renewable energy, e-vehicles, and several other industries.
Solid-state batteries are an emerging promising option – as the next-generation energy storage technology.
Conventional battery technology
Battery technologies, applied nowadays, are based on two solid metal electrodes, with a lithium salt serving as a media for the ions flow. As the battery charges, the ions move through the liquid electrolyte, from the cathode metal to the anode metal, and the other way around when the battery discharges.
Cathodes are typically made of different classes of Li-based oxides, phosphates, such as lithium cobalt oxide. While anodes are typically made of titanates, Li-alloys, and metallic lithium and carbon forms, such as graphite.
- The lithium price is high (=High production cost)
- Reduced lifetime, due to a natural charge-discharge degrading effect
- High-temperature sensitivity, causing faster deterioration
- The decomposition of the electrolytes releases hydrogen gas, can result in explosions.
- Risk of leakage and/or corrosion, due to the liquid electrolyte
Solid-state battery technology
Solid-state (SS) batteries, on the other hand, use a solid material to promote the ion flow. The cell chemistry, of solid-state cells, is in general the same as of liquid electrolyte cells. Solid electrolytes are produced using polyethylene glycol and conducting Li-based materials (salts, ceramics, and glasses).
- Solid-State batteries contain no flammable material
- cannot produce hydrogen gas (dramatic improvement in operational safety)
- Allows for the use of higher-voltage cathode materials, which improves energy density (more energy storage / same battery size)
- They weigh less and require less space (Since no cooling system is required)
- Solid-state batteries can potentially cycle 10–100 times more than liquid batteries
- Stability of SSEs also allows solid-state batteries to be charged and discharged at very high rates without unwanted side reactions, which increases the scope of application
But nothing is perfect
Solid-state batteries are still more expensive than conventional energy storage technologies. A study from the University of Florida has estimated that a typical cell phone-sized solid-state battery would cost about $15,000 to manufacture.
One battery big enough to power an electric car would cost, somewhat around $100,000. One of the causes for this is, once again, the high costs of lithium on the market. Therefore, several on-going studies focus on finding out alternative materials for electrodes and electrolytes.
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