A New Solid-State Lithium Battery That Can Increase the Range of Electric Vehicles by 80%

The rise of electric vehicles (EVs) in the last few years has been phenomenal. One of the impediments holding back the broader adoption of EVs is the performance of batteries used in these vehicles. Despite the advancements in lithium-ion batteries in the last decade, the batteries still lack the range that would make them a viable alternative to internal combustion engines.

QuantumScape, one of the leading developers of solid-state lithium metal batteries for use in EVs, has released the performance data demonstrating the technology that addresses the main issues holding back the broader adoption of solid-state batteries. It addresses the issues of charge time, cycle life, safety, and operating temperature that are of critical importance for EVs’ growth.

A solid-state lithium state battery has been in development for quite some time, and researchers worldwide have been working on it for the past decade.

The company’s latest offering is designed to increase the range by 80% compared to ordinary lithium-ion batteries. Earlier, the efforts to create a solid-state separator capable of working with lithium metal had to compromise on the other aspects of the battery like the cycle life, operating temperature, cathode loading, and excess lithium in the anode.

The company’s latest results show that solid-state separators can work at high rates of power, which enables a 15-minute charge to 80% capacity, which is a considerable improvement over the conventional lithium-ion batteries. The results also point out the fact the QuantumScape’s battery is capable of lasting for long distances, and the battery is designed to operate at varying temperatures, with the results showing operations at even -30 degrees Celsius.

Some of the other critical features of the solid-state lithium metal battery technology include:

  • The latest design eliminates the carbon or silicon anode, and the design increases the energy density because it uses no excess lithium on the anode.
  • The latest technology eliminates the side reaction between the liquid electrolyte and the carbon in conventional lithium-ion cells’ anode. The technology is designed to last hundreds of thousands of miles of driving.
  • The solid-state separator is non-combustible and isolates the anode from the cathode even at very high temperatures-much higher than conventional organic separators.

Speaking on the development of the solid-state batteries, Stan Whittingham, co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery and winner of the 2019 Nobel prize in chemistry, said, “The hardest part about making a working solid-state battery is the need to simultaneously meet the requirements of high energy density (1,000 Wh/L), fast charge, long cycle life (greater than 800 cycles), and wide temperature range operation. This data shows that QuantumScape’s cells meet all of these requirements, which has never been reported. If QuantumScape can get this technology into mass production, it holds the potential to transform the industry.”

The cells were tested as large single-layer pouch cells with zero excess lithium on the anode and thick cathodes running at the rate of one-hour charge and discharge at 30 degrees Celsius. The tests demonstrated the performance even at high rates, showing a retained capacity of greater than 80% after 800 cycles.

Echoing a similar sense of optimism, Jagdeep Singh, founder and CEO of QuantumScape, said, “We believe that the performance data we’ve unveiled today shows that solid-state batteries have the potential to narrow the gap between electric vehicles and internal combustion vehicles and help enable EVs to become the world’s dominant form of transportation.”

The company has been working on solid-state batteries for the last decade to create the next generation of battery technology. QuantumScape’s solid-state separator replaces the organic separator used in conventional lithium-ion batteries. This eliminates the carbon or silicon anode with zero excess lithium. Unlike traditional lithium-ion batteries or some other solid-state designs, the architecture used by the company delivers high energy density while enabling lower costs and simplified manufacturing.

In July this year, researchers at Stanford University claimed that they had developed a new electrolyte design that boosts lithium metal batteries’ performance, increasing the driving range of EVs. They said that the electrolyte solution had been one of the most significant factors holding back progress for lithium metal batteries.

Earlier, researchers at Penn State University claimed to have developed a lithium-ion battery that is safe and has power and can last up to one million miles. At Penn State’s Battery and Energy Storage Technology Center, a team of researchers developed the battery.