Researchers claim the new technology offers higher energy density and long cycle life,The co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, 94-year-old John Goodenough, has turned his sights to solid-state battery technology.Goodenough teamed with University of Texas at Austin senior research fellow Maria Helena Braga to create the first all-solid-state battery cells. The technology is claimed to be safer and faster-charging than lithium-ion, with energy densities three times higher.
"Cost, safety, energy density, rates of charge and discharge and cycle life are critical for battery-driven cars to be more widely adopted," Goodenough says. "We believe our discovery solves many of the problems that are inherent in today's batteries."
Detailed in a recent paper published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, the solid-state batteries use a glass electrolyte instead of the liquid electrolyte employed by lithium-ion cells. An alkali metal anode can then be used without forming dendrites, which can lead to explosions and fires in lithium-ion cells.
Other solid-state batteries are said to have been sensitive to temperature, requiring operation above 60 degrees Celsius (140 Fahrenheit), but glass electrolytes can maintain high conductivity at temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit).
Braga suggests the glass electrolyte also allows lithium to be replaced by sodium, which can be extracted from seawater.
Goodenough and Braga are working on several patents and collaborating with battery makers to continue development. Most battery 'breakthroughs' fail to materialize as viable products. Goodenough is an icon in the battery research world, however, so his latest work will likely be closely followed by the auto industry.