One of the latest entrants in the heated race for higher-performance battery pack technology is a new type of solid-state battery with high energy density, half the size of a typical lithium-ion battery, and the potential to make the 500-mile range possible.
Researchers from the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) and the Samsung R&D Institute Japan (SRJ) have created a prototype of a solid-state battery that could enable an electric vehicle (EV) to travel up to 500 miles (800 kilometers) on a single charge. The battery prototype is also longer-lasting with a cycle life of more than 1,000 charges, and has enhanced overall safety, Samsung said in a statement this week, announcing that its researchers had published the study on the new solid-state technology in the scientific journal Nature.
The research team says they have found a way to make solid-state batteries safer, long-lasting, and with high overall performance, thanks to introducing a new ultrathin nanocomposite layer of silver and carbon into a prototype pouch cell.
Solid-state batteries theoretically support greater energy density, which would make them a strong competitor to lithium-ion batteries if it weren’t for the propensity of the metal to grow dendrites, needle-like crystals or “metal whiskers” that develop on the anode of the battery during charging. These dendrites can create a short circuit and reduce the safety and lifespan of a solid-state battery.
Samsung’s researchers say that the micro silver-carbon layer they have added to the pouch cell helped them to reduce anode thickness and boost energy density up to 900Wh/L.
“This promising research is expected to help drive the expansion of electric vehicles (EVs). The prototype pouch cell that the team developed would enable an EV to travel up to 800km on a single charge, and features a cycle life of over 1,000 charges,” Samsung said in a news release.
“The product of this study could be a seed technology for safer, high-performance batteries of the future. Going forward, we will continue to develop and refine all-solid-state battery materials and manufacturing technologies to help take EV battery innovation to the next level,” said Dongmin Im, Master at SAIT’s Next Generation Battery Lab who led the project.
Scientists all over the world develop and test various novel technologies to boost the performance of batteries, lithium-ion or others, while also enhancing safety as the race for the next groundbreaking battery technology heats up.
Most recently, a South Korean research team developed a silicon anode to replace the graphite that is currently used in EV batteries, greatly improving performance—the new anode material can increase a battery’s range twofold while greatly accelerating charging times.
The energy density of the lithium-ion batteries has nearly tripled in the past decade, while battery pack costs have declined from as much as $1,100 per kWh ten years ago to just $156 per kWh last year, again according to BloombergNEF.
“Cheaper batteries, faster charging and greater ranges will make the 2020s the decade of the electric vehicle,” Ram Chandrasekaran, Principal Analyst, Transportation & Mobility at Wood Mackenzie, said in an analysis last month.
During the 2010s, battery range has greatly improved—from up to 100 miles at the beginning of the decade to up to 250 miles now, and up to 373 miles in Tesla Model S Long Range, Chandrasekaran said.
As legacy automakers prepare to roll out dozens of new EVs in the coming years, Wood Mackenzie expects the market share of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) globally to jump from 3 percent in 2019 to 14 percent by the end of this decade.
Wider adoption of EVs will depend on three crucial factors: price, reliability, and most importantly—convenience to charge, according to WoodMac.
“To reach a high penetration level, BEVs have to appeal to people who ‘just want a good car’. To achieve that basic status, BEVs will have to be cheap, reliable and, most importantly, convenient to charge. Without a strong case to drive people towards BEVs, large-scale adoption may never come to pass,” Chandrasekaran said.