Solid state bat­ter­ies

HWM (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - by James Lu

In 1980, John Good­e­nough rev­o­lu­tion­ized con­sumer elec­tron­ics when he in­vented the recharge­able lithium-ion bat­tery. 37 years later, he’s about to do it again. The physi­cist re­cently pub­lished a pa­per de­tail­ing the break­through re­search he’s been con­duct­ing on solid state bat­ter­ies that can hold three times the charge of any mod­ern bat­tery. Not only that, they also charge faster, and are com­pletely stable, elim­i­nat­ing any risk of ex­plo­sions or bat­tery-re­lated res.

Good­e­nough’s new de­sign, be­ing de­vel­oped with his 90-man re­search team at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas, uses glass elec­trodes in­stead of liq­uid ones, and sodium ions in­stead of lithium. Sodium is much denser than lithium, which gives it the po­ten­tial to hold more en­ergy. Ad­di­tion­ally, by us­ing solid glass, the new bat­tery won’t form den­drites; whisker-like pieces of lithium that usu­ally form in liq­uid elec­trolytes. Den­drites are the rea­son lithium-ion bat­ter­ies have the ten­dency to short cir­cuit and com­bust.

The solid-glass elec­trolytes also have the ben­e­fit of be­ing un­af­fected by tem­per­a­ture – cur­rent lithium bat­ter­ies per­form poorly in cold weather. Lithium is also con­sid­ered a rare earth min­eral, and re­quires min­ing to ac­quire, mak­ing it more ex­pen­sive than sodium, which can be de­rived from sea­wa­ter, so these bat­ter­ies will likely be a lot cheaper to pro­duce and will also be more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly.

For now, Good­e­nough and his team are look­ing to pair up with bat­tery mak­ers who can test their cre­ation in elec­tric ve­hi­cles and en­ergy stor­age de­vices.

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