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Researchers Develop Efficient Solid-State Battery Tech for Future EVs

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Research by UC San Diego, in partnership with LG Energy Solution, has discovered a new battery technology that could make future EVs cheaper. Researchers developed a solid-state battery using an all-silicon anode, offering high energy density, fast charging, and longer life. The research paper has been published in the Science journal (via).

Silicon anodes are preferable over graphite anodes thanks to their higher (10X) energy density. However, silicon anodes have a tendency to degrade fairly quickly with the regular operation of a battery. This is particularly the case when silicon anodes are coupled with liquid electrolytes.

On the other hand, solid-state batteries that use solid electrolytes in place of liquid also encounter problems. This is because such batteries use metallic lithium anodes which require storage at temperatures of up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This, in turn, means that such batteries are impractical in colder climates.

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Engineers used the cheaper micro-silicon instead of the more favored nano-silicon

UC San Diego researchers also shared their findings in a press release. The team reportedly removed the carbon and binders found in silicon anodes. They also used the less expensive micro-silicon in favor of nano-silicon. Further, they replaced the liquid electrolyte with sulfide-based solid electrolytes.

The results were quite illuminating, showing that solid electrolyte is “extremely stable” in batteries that use all-silicon anodes. It reportedly retained 80% capacity even after 500 charge/discharge cycles at room temperature.

The research paper’s lead author, Darren H. S. Tan, said, “The solid-state silicon approach overcomes many limitations in conventional batteries. It presents exciting opportunities for us to meet market demands for higher volumetric energy, lowered costs, and safer batteries especially for grid energy storage.” Tan is also the co-founder of startup UNIGRID Battery that has reportedly licensed this new battery technology.

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Meanwhile, LG Energy Solution said that it will expand its research collaboration with UC San Diego. “As a leading battery manufacturer, LGES will continue its effort to foster state-of-the-art techniques in leading research of next-generation battery cells,” said Myung-hwan Kim, Chief Procurement Officer at LG Energy Solution.

This research could revolutionize electric vehicle production while also cutting down costs in the long run. We expect to learn more about this new technology in the months to come.