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Researchers are developing high-performance solid polymer batteries.


Researchers are developing high-performance solid polymer batteries.

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A government researchers agency in South Korea has developed an innovative polymer technology that could accelerate the commercialization of high-performance and stable solid-state batteries for electric vehicles. For commercialization, the institute will transfer its technology to Energyn, a domestic battery equipment maker.

Solid-state batteries can have higher energy densities than lithium-ion batteries. Solid-state batteries enable faster charging, higher voltage, and longer life. The solid electrolyte is non-flammable, ensuring the safe operation of lithium metal batteries. However, challenges for widespread adoption include energy and power density, durability, material cost, sensitivity and stability.

The solid polymer electrolytes developed so far have some obstacles to commercialization, such as low lithium-ion conductivity at ambient temperature. It is also difficult to form a stable state in which ions can be transferred smoothly through the interface where they meet the electrolyte.

The Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology said its team of researchers has developed a highly stable solid-state polymer battery technology. By designing ion-conducting polymer plasticizers to interconnect with each other in a network-like fashion, a solid polymer electrolyte with excellent electrical conductivity and flexibility for lithium ions was developed.

Through joint research with Energyn, the institute said it will address the manufacturing process issues to enable the commercialization of solid-state batteries, citing the huge growth potential and economic impact of high-stability batteries.

Battery suppliers are trying to develop cheaper, more efficient and better performing batteries. Compared to flammable liquid electrolytes, solid-state batteries have a lower risk of fire. Fewer safety systems are required, further increasing energy density. German auto giant Volkswagen has announced a major push to reduce the cost of making batteries and an eventual move to solid-state technology.

In September 2021, LGES, the battery production arm of South Korea’s LG Group, developed innovative technologies that could advance the commercialization of solid-state batteries using composite solid electrolytes that use relatively inexpensive micron-sized silicon particles.

South Korea’s Hyundai Motor has pledged to target trial production of solid-state battery electric vehicles in 2025. In October 2021, Hyundai teamed up with Factorial Energy, a U.S. developer of solid-state battery technology, to develop solid-state batteries.

Solid-state batteries use solid electrodes and solid electrolytes instead of the liquid or polymer gel electrolytes found in lithium-ion or lithium-polymer batteries. Materials proposed for use as solid electrolytes in solid state batteries include ceramics (eg, oxides, sulfides, phosphates) and solid polymers.

Solid-state batteries have been used in pacemakers, RFID, and wearables. They may be safer, with higher energy density, but at a much higher cost.

Challenges for widespread adoption include energy and power density, durability, material cost, sensitivity, and stability.

Traditionally, the fabrication and use of solid-state batteries has been considered difficult to scale and costly in a manufacturing process that requires expensive vacuum deposition equipment. It was estimated that a 20 Amp hour solid-state battery based on the technology at the time would cost $100,000 in 2012, while a long-range Electric Vehicle would require between 800 and 1,000 of these batteries. Cost has pushed the adoption of solid-state batteries to other areas, such as smartphones.

Since most liquid electrolytes are flammable, while solid electrolytes are non-flammable, solid-state batteries are considered to have a lower risk of fire. Fewer safety systems are required, further increasing energy density. Recent studies have shown that under thermal runaway conditions, the internal heating is only about 20-30% of that of conventional liquid electrolyte batteries.

It is believed that solid-state battery technology can achieve higher energy density (2.5x) by enabling lithium metal anodes.

A team of engineers at the University of Texas at Austin has developed the first all-solid-state battery that could lead to safer, faster charging and longer-lasting rechargeable batteries. These can be used in a range of applications from mobile devices to electric vehicles to stationary energy storage.

Led by Cockrell professor John Goodenough, co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, and senior researcher Maria Helena Braga, the new battery offers a number of benefits. “Cost, safety, energy density, charge and discharge rates, and longevity are critical to the wider adoption of battery-powered vehicles. We believe our findings will address many of the problems inherent in today’s batteries,” Goodenough said.

The new battery cells have three times the energy density of today’s lithium-ion batteries, enabling longer range. Additionally, they can withstand more charge and discharge cycles and faster charging speeds.

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Researchers are developing high-performance solid polymer batteries.
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