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Short-Term: Solid-State Battery (SSB) 

Do me a solid

Technology usually advances at the rate of demand.  Experts believe that we've reached the peak of what Li-ion batteries (LiB) are capable of, heating up the race to techs w/ higher energy densities [1].  As usual, manufacturers are struggling to increase energy capacity w/o increasing battery weight & cost [2].


Solid-state batteries (SSB) have been described as the “next big thing” for electric vehicles (EVs) battery manufactures due to its potential to more than double (2 to 2.5x higher) the energy density of a standard LiB in a (much more) safe way, being the focus of innovation activities & patent deposits [3].


SSB tech involves replacing liquid-electrolyte w/ a solid one, where the ionic movement takes place.  In fact, the complete removal of any liquid component aimed to a greatly enhanced safety of the overall device, as nothing in it can leak and ignite.


Li-ion batteries (LiB)


Currently, LiB is by far the global leader in electrochemical storage.  Mainly comprised of the key components of cathode, anode, and electrolyte, LiB manufactures are actively seeking technological innovations and breakthroughs in various of these parts.  Though revolutionary and ubiquitous, LiB has some drawbacks such as safe, recharge time, and materials supply chain issues, which leads to a high mfg. cost [4].


Sodium-ion batteries (SiB)


Although not yet commercial, a good option to avoid battery supply chain disruptions is Sodium-ion tech. Sodium-ion batteries (SiBs) are safer, cheaper, and cleaner than LiB, but have a lower energy densities (about 2/3).  Despite being similar in construction to LiB, SiB are potentially more eco-friendly as they mainly use sodium-chloride, abundant in ocean.  Unlike LiB, they are not reliant on nickel, cobalt, and manganese, and instead use widely-available materials.  Once in commercial production, they can complement LiB in many applications [5].  For additional information on SiBs, click here.


Solid-state batteries (SSB)


Developments in the late 20th and early 21st century have caused renewed interest in SSB tech, especially for EVs, from the 2010s onwards [6].  As time goes by, R&D could continuously reduce liquid content in battery electrolytes, but there remain critical technical challenges on the way to all-solid-state batteries: currently, industry is transiting from semi-solid (liquid: 5-10wt%) to all-solid-state.


SSBs use solid electrodes (like LiBs) and a solid-electrolyte (SE), doing away w/ liquid or polymer gel electrolytes found in conventional Li-ion or Li-polymer batteries [7].  Commercial SSBs are already a reality, but in much smaller devices such as smartwatches, pacemakers, and RFID tags.


SSB can provide potential solutions for many problems of liquid LiBs, such as flammability, limited voltage, and poor cycling [8].  Cars equipped w/ SSB could be lighter, which increases range, and can take a third as long to recharge [9].


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