Are Solid-State Batteries the EV Solution We Think They Are?
There’s been a lot of talk about the movement away from traditional lithium-ion batteries. Solid-state batteries could replace the traditional models in electric vehicles. These new batteries should be more energy-dense, less volatile, and faster charging, but it might not be all sunshine and roses with these new battery packs.
What is a solid-state battery?
A new battery system for electric vehicles has been suggested. This battery type is called solid-state. The most important difference from lithium-ion batteries used in current electric vehicles is the use of a solid material rather than a liquid to allow the flow of ions in the battery. Let’s look at some advantages and disadvantages of these new EV battery packs.
Advantage: Greater energy density
A battery’s energy density is how much electricity it can produce for its weight or volume. Batteries with higher density mean less weight, which could increase the driving range of EVs if the output is the same as lithium-ion batteries. Changing to solid-state car batteries could make EVs lighter while offering the same amount of energy.
In perspective, an average 80-kWh battery weighs about 1,000 pounds in a traditional EV. The solid-state system could offer three times the density, reducing the weight of the battery pack to 333 pounds.
Advantage: Faster charging to a full charge
Fast charging stations only charge EVs to 80% to protect the battery pack from damage during the faster charging process. These new EV battery packs could receive a full charge and do so much faster. The charging time could be reduced to 10 to 15 minutes for a full charge.
Advantage: These new batteries are more stable
When lithium-ion batteries get too hot, they can catch fire. A reaction with the liquid in the batteries causes this. Solid-state batteries don’t have liquid electrolytes, so the risk of fire is extremely low.
Disadvantage: Solid-state packs could use much more lithium
Current electric vehicle batteries are made of lithium. Although we’re being told a move to solid-state EV batteries could be much better, they might use much more lithium than traditional EV batteries. Moving to these new batteries won’t change the current material shortages of lithium.
Disadvantage: Recycling lithium isn’t a reality yet
Other parts of traditional lithium-ion batteries can be recycled, but not lithium. The recyclable materials include nickel, cobalt, manganese, copper, and aluminum from these battery cells. Many of these materials won’t be present in solid-state batteries, making them much more difficult to recycle.
Disadvantage: The cost of building these batteries could be prohibitive
These new batteries require higher densities of rare metals, and the construction technique differs. This means fewer factories, new processes, and higher costs to produce these new battery packs. We’re only now seeing EV prices drop; adding rare and expensive batteries could reverse it.
When will these new EV batteries be available?
Car and Driver reports that Nissan plans to have solid-state EV batteries by 2028. This might be an aggressive goal, but still possible. Other experts have suggested these new batteries might not be available until 2035.