Lithium-ion batteries are much more powerful and efficient than they were just five years ago. And while there’s still plenty of room for improvement, lithium-ion batteries have some physical limitations that are difficult to overcome. That’s why Ford and BMW will test advanced solid-state EV batteries later this year.
In a regular lithium-ion battery, a layer of liquid electrolytes allows energy to flow between a cathode and anode. Or in simpler terms, a liquid inside the battery lets it charge and discharge. Solid-state batteries replace this layer of liquid with a hard material, usually metal or synthetic material.
The solid-state material allows for faster charging, which is obviously a pain point of current EVs. It’s also very energy-dense—in theory, a new solid-state battery should have a much larger capacity than a lithium-ion pack. (Solid-state tech also improves battery durability. While EV fires are actually quite rare, a more durable battery could require less shielding, which means a lighter load.)
Solid Power, a battery maker on the frontline of new technology, says that it’s completed an “EV cell product line” that should produce around 15,000 solid-state batteries each year. By the end of 2022, Solid Power will send samples of these batteries to Ford, BMW, and other partners for testing.
It’s clear that carmakers are interested in solid-state batteries. In fact, it seems that they’re racing to adopt the technology. Porsche recently announced plans to stick a solid-state battery in its EV, and if this tech can really improve range and charging speed, it will usher in a new generation of electric cars and trucks.
That said, the actual cost, life expectancy, and capacity of these solid-state batteries is a mystery. If the technology isn’t up to scuff, it probably won’t appear in EVs for a few years. For what it’s worth, Mercedes-Benz already uses solid-state batteries in its European eCitaro busses, so this technology isn’t too obscure.
Source: Ars Technica