New Battery Technology Holds Promise for Safer and More Powerful Electric Vehicles

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Researchers at the University of Maryland have made significant strides in developing a new battery technology that could pave the way for safer and higher-energy electric vehicles (EVs). The breakthrough method, outlined in a paper published in the journal Nature, focuses on suppressing the growth of lithium dendrites, which are branch-like structures that form inside all-solid-state lithium batteries. By addressing this issue, the researchers hope to enable the production of viable all-solid-state batteries for EVs, which are less prone to fires and offer increased energy storage capabilities.

Lithium-ion batteries are commonly used in EVs due to their ability to store large amounts of energy. However, the liquid electrolyte component in these batteries is flammable and can lead to fires when overheated. While electric car battery fires are relatively rare, they pose unique risks, such as electric shock and exposure to toxic gases. All-solid-state batteries have the potential to mitigate these risks and offer a safer alternative to current electric and internal combustion vehicles.

The development of a successful strategy for all-solid-state batteries has been a complex process. When operated at high capacities and charging-discharging rates required by electric vehicles, lithium dendrites tend to grow towards the cathode side, resulting in short circuits and reduced capacity. The researchers, led by Professor Chunsheng Wang from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, focused on redesigning the interlayers of the battery to suppress the growth of lithium dendrites.

The unique solution proposed by the researchers involves stabilizing the interfaces between the solid electrolyte and the anode, as well as between the electrolyte and the cathode. A fluorine-rich interlayer is added to stabilize the cathode side, while the anode’s interlayer is modified with magnesium and bismuth to suppress the growth of lithium dendrites. This innovative battery structure addresses the trade-off between high energy and safety that exists in current battery technologies.

Despite this significant breakthrough, there are still challenges to overcome before the all-solid-state batteries can be commercialized. One hurdle is scaling down the solid electrolyte layer to achieve a similar thickness to conventional lithium-ion batteries, which would improve energy density. The high costs of the required materials also present a challenge that needs to be addressed. However, battery manufacturer Solid Power intends to begin trials of the new technology and aims to release the batteries to the market by 2026.

The University of Maryland researchers continue to research ways to further boost the energy density of the all-solid-state batteries. If successful, this technology could revolutionize the EV industry by offering safer and more powerful energy storage solutions. Moreover, the advancements made in battery technology could have broader implications for other applications, such as portable electronic devices and renewable energy storage systems.

 

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  1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
  2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it