Mobile technology is growing strongly exponentially, but battery technology does not stand up. We reach the physical limits of what conventional lithium and lithium polymer patterns can do. The solution can be something called a solid state battery.
What is a solid state battery?
In a conventional battery design, lithium ion two solid metal electrodes are usually used with a liquid lithium salt which acts as an electrolyte. Ionic particles move from one electrode (cathode) to the other (anode) when the battery is charging and in reverse when it is released. The liquid lithium electrolyte is the medium that allows that movement. If you have ever seen a battery corrode or become punctured, the "battery acid" that oozes (or occasionally explodes) exposes the liquid electrolyte.
In a solid state battery, both positive and negative electrodes are used, and the electrolyte between them is metal, alloy, or other synthetic material. The term "solid state" can remind you of SSD data, and it's not a coincidence. Solid State storage devices use flash memory, which does not move, as opposed to a regular hard drive, which stores data on a spin-magnet disk powered by a small engine.
Although the thought of solid state batteries has been around for decades, development in its development has begun, currently accelerated by investments from electronics companies, car manufacturers and general industry suppliers.
What's better about solid state batteries?
Solid State batteries promise some clear advantages over their fluid-filled cousins: better battery life, faster charging times and a safer experience.
Solid State batteries compress the anode, cathode and electrolyte into three planar layers, instead of suspending the electrodes in a liquid electrolyte. This means you can make them smaller or at least smoother while keeping as much energy as a larger liquid-based battery. So if you replace the lithium ion or lithium polymer battery in your phone or laptop with a solid state battery of the same size, it would be a lot longer charge. Alternatively, you can make a device that keeps the same charge much smaller or thinner.
Solid State batteries are also safer because there is no toxic flammable liquid to spill and they do not feed as much heat as ordinary rechargeable batteries. When applied to batteries that run power electronics or even electric cars, they can load much faster, even that ions can move much faster from the cathode to the anode.
According to the latest research, a solid state battery can exceed conventional rechargeable batteries by 500% or more in terms of capacity and charging within a tenth of time.
What are the disadvantages?
Because solid state batteries are an emerging technology, they are extremely expensive to manufacture. So expensive, the fact that they are not installed in any major consumer electronics electronics at the time of writing. In 2012, analysts who wrote for the University of Florida Software Analysis and Advanced Materials Processing assessed that a typical battery-charged solid state battery would cost about $ 15,000 to manufacture. A big enough to drive an electric car costs $ 100,000.
Part of this is because scalability is not in place Hundreds of millions of rechargeable batteries are manufactured each year at the moment, so manufacturing costs for materials and equipment are spread over large supply lines. There are only a few companies and universities investigating solid state batteries, so the cost of producing each one is astronomical.
Another problem is the materials. While the properties of various metals, alloys and metallic salts used for conventional rechargeable batteries are well known, we do not currently know the best chemical and atomic composition for a solid electrolyte between metal anodes and cathodes. Current research reduces this, but we need to gather more reliable data before we can gather or synthesize the materials and invest in manufacturing processes.
When will I use a solid state battery?
As with all emerging techniques, trying to figure out when you get your hands at it is at best guesswork.
It is encouraging that many huge companies invest in the research needed to bring solid batteries to the consumer market, but shy of a major breakthrough in the near future, it is difficult to say if it will be a big step forward. At least one car company says it will be ready to put a vehicle in 2023, but do not guess how much the car can cost. Five years seem too optimistic; ten years seems more likely. It may be twenty years or more before the materials are determined and the manufacturing processes are being developed.
But as we said at the beginning of the article, conventional battery technology begins to hit a wall. And there is nothing like potential sales to stimulate research and development. It's at least something (very small) that you may be able to use a gadget or drive a powered state battery soon.
Image Credit: Sucharas Wongpeth / Shutterstock, Daniel Krason / Shutterstock