Potential major breakthrough for electric mobility: a solid state battery with 3 times the energy density, super fast charging and no capacity decrease up to -20 degrees Celsius.
A team of engineers led by 94-year-old John Goodenough, professor at the University of Texas at Austin and co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, has developed the next major battery-related breakthrough: a tiny all-glass design. Goodenough worked together with senior fellow Maria Helena Braga, who began developing solid-glass electrolytes with colleagues at the University of Porto in Portugal.
The new design is both safer and more efficient than its predecessor, thanks to its use of a sodium- or lithium-coated glass electrolyte, one that can store three times as much power as the present lithium-ion alternative.
“Cost, safety, energy density, rates of charge and discharge and cycle life are critical for battery-driven cars. We believe our discovery solves many of the problems that are inherent in today’s batteries,” Goodenough said.
The battery can withstand extreme temperatures, charge in just minutes, and offers more than 1,200 charge-discharge cycles, meaning it will last significantly longer than a lithium-ion battery. And the glass design isn’t only cheaper and more efficient, it’s safer, too.
Today’s lithium-ion batteries use liquid electrolytes to transport the lithium ions between the anode (the negative side of the battery) and the cathode (the positive side of the battery). If a battery cell is charged too quickly, it can cause dendrites or “metal whiskers” to form and cross through the liquid electrolytes, causing a short circuit that can lead to explosions and fires. Instead of liquid electrolytes, the researchers rely on glass electrolytes that enable the use of an alkali-metal anode without the formation of dendrites.
Additionally, because the solid-glass electrolytes can operate at -20 degrees Celsius, this type of battery in a car could perform well in subzero degree weather. This is the first all-solid-state battery cell that can operate under 60 degree Celsius.
Another advantage is that the battery cells can be made from earth-friendly materials. “The glass electrolytes allow for the substitution of low-cost sodium for lithium. Sodium is extracted from seawater that is widely available,” Braga said.
Goodenough and Braga are continuing to advance their battery-related research. In the short term, they hope to work with battery makers to develop and test their new materials in electric vehicles and energy storage devices.
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