Nothing’s better for powering smartphones or a Tesla Model 3 than using a lithium-ion battery. As introduced in the year 1991, this lithium-ion battery is the primary rechargeable source of devices and electric or vehicle power. Although the world has 3 million electric vehicles with lithium-ion batteries, something better is on track.
A science and engineering professor of the University of Maryland, Yifei Mo, said, “Lithium is pretty much hitting a wall right now. If you want to increase energy density, you have to go to a completely different paradigm.” It means that the more the energy density, the cheaper and lighter batteries that will last longer.
This year, plenty of start-ups have made massive improvements in current lithium-ion technology, which will soon be introduced to the commercial market.
According to Sila Nanotechnologies CEO, Gene Berdichevsky, it took almost eight years and iterations of 35,000 material syntheses to become commercially ready.
Some battery start-ups, including Sila, received the primary funding to innovate the battery technology. A few years back, Siemens global and other California-based business built the first commercial line of silicone-anode batteries. These companies also took Series D financing worth $70 million from few investors.
ROI is Coming
It took ten years of research before the recent lithium-ion battery emerged its variations. Today, start-ups are geared up to roll out new tech over the next couple of years.
Berdichevsky stated, “The material required for one car is the equivalent of 10,000 smartphones or 100,000 smart-watches. We’ll be in consumer devices to start. Over the next five years, we’ll scale up with automotive partners.” The recent auto partner of Sila is BMW.
Due to the limited materials and energy density of the lithium-ion batteries, battery technology tries improving the energy efficiency and safety of the cells wherein overheating won’t cause fire and damage.
Remember the trending explosions of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones? The chemicals used for anode and cathode are a type of metal oxide and graphite which intensely heats up. It may cause a breakdown on the solid separator leaving exposure on the extremely flammable electrolyte.
Next Generation of Battery Technology
A solid-state of new battery technology replaces graphite anode, a liquid electrolyte, and a solid piece separator to a flame retardant polymer, glass or ceramic. According to the company executives of Solid Power, they’re developing 50 percent of energy density on leads.
The timeline of solid-state technology will be determined through the set-up of modern battery factories. It handles the lithium-ion batteries with the liquid electrolytes and switching of solid materials is a matter of factory floor replacement processes.
Few start-ups work on perfecting and innovating the solid-state battery, while Sila Nanotechnologies took advantage of the manufacturing process of lithium-ion batteries to bring into the market. Instead of developing solid-state batteries, Sila used materials absorbing lithium ions that are faster than graphite anode.
There’s less than a percent of charge rate on a most lithium-ion battery with graphite anode. Some developing start-ups testified that the charge-rate of batteries on a new cell with silicon anode is a better differentiator that enables the future of electric vehicles.
However, the silicon-anode batteries have a drawback. This material swells meaning the battery deteriorates on every charge. Rango and Berdichevsky clarified that their companies solved this problem.
The development of the start-ups might take a long time due to the difficulty of pushing battery technology. Since electric vehicles are one of the primary implications of better batteries, new developers of lithium-ion batteries might find in smaller terms.