Everything You Need to Know About Solid-State Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are the most common batteries used in electric vehicles today. These batteries use liquid or polymer electrolytes, but this could be set to change.

Many believe today’s lithium-ion batteries are nearing their full potential and solid-state batteries provide better hopes for the future. Solid-state batteries will still be lithium-ion but use a solid material in place of liquid or polymer electrolytes.

Benefits

The use of a solid material changes the performance of the battery almost completely. One of the biggest benefits is that solid-state batteries have 2-3 times the energy density of lithium-ion batteries. Meaning automakers could increase the ranges of their EVs considerably.

Solid-state batteries aren’t flammable, something which has been a concern to some consumers after a picture of a flaming Tesla went viral. Electric vehicles already have better safety records than ICE vehicles but solid-state batteries could improve on this further.

Burning Tesla

In theory, solid-state batteries would also have a longer lifecycle and faster charge times.

Solid-state batteries trump lithium-ion in almost every way that matters: energy density, safety, lifecycle and charge time.

Problems

As explained earlier, solid-state batteries use solid materials instead of liquid electrodes. The problem is finding a solid material that’s conductive enough to be used in large batteries.

The material needs to be cost-effective, highly conductive, and easy to use in mass production. There was a promising breakthrough earlier this year in the form of glass electrolytes.

Making the switch from producing lithium-ion batteries to solid-state will also be costly. Automakers may need to take a financial hit at the start and invest their money to make solid-state batteries a reality.

Future Prospects

Sakti3, a battery technology firm,  is researching and developing solid-state batteries.

In 2014, their solid-state batteries were approaching twice the energy density of lithium-ion batteries at a fifth of the cost. Dyson acquired Sakti3 in 2015 before announcing their aspirations of entering the electric vehicle market.

Fisker, a California based EV manufacturer, recently announced a solid-state battery breakthrough. Fisker claims their solid-state batteries, which have three-dimensional electrodes, have 2.5 times the energy density of lithium-ion batteries. This technology would mean charging times as low as one minute and a range of 500 miles.

Fisker EMotion

Toyota recently announced that it wants to bring solid-state batteries to market by 2022. Although Toyota seemed to have pinned its hopes on hydrogen technology, this announcement would imply otherwise. If successful, Toyota could catch up in an EV race it’s desperately lagging behind in.

By Robert Bacon
Updated: December 3, 2017

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