July 12, 2023
Solid State vs. Lithium Ion: The Future of EV Batteries
Electric cars are rising in popularity as more people seek out eco-friendly vehicles that don’t guzzle gas.
Most electric vehicles (EVs) today rely on lithium ion batteries to power them. But emerging solid state battery technology could provide a safer, more powerful replacement.
Let’s take a look under the hood and compare these two battery types vying to be at the heart of the EV revolution.
The Reigning Champ: How Lithium Ion Batteries Work
Lithium ion batteries have long been the workhorse energy source for EVs. They’re constructed with a liquid electrolyte and three main components: a cathode, anode and separator.
When the battery charges, lithium ions flow from the cathode to the anode through the electrolyte. This flow of ions generates electricity to power the vehicle.
Lithium ion packs are reasonably lightweight and energy dense – they can store a lot of energy in a small space. This helps maximize an EV’s driving range per charge.
But lithium ion technology has some downsides.
It’s prone to overheating and can degrade over time after repeated charges. There have also been some fiery mishaps as these high-energy batteries can be volatile!
The New Kid on the Block: Introducing Solid State Batteries
Enter solid state batteries, an emerging technology that swaps the liquid electrolyte for a solid material such as a ceramic or polymer.
By using solid electrolytes, engineers can unlock some tantalizing perks. Solid state batteries operate cooler, eliminating fire risks and allowing for sleeker battery designs. They can reach higher energy densities, storing even more juice in a smaller, lighter package.
Other big advantages are increased long-term stability and faster charging capabilities.
The Solid State Edge
Several automakers like Toyota and Volkswagen are now developing solid state battery prototypes.
Early tests show their energy density could exceed current lithium ion batteries by double digit percentages – a big jump. That adds up to longer range for an EV with the same battery weight or a lighter battery pack for the same range.
And solid state’s heightened stability means less degradation over time. Some project batteries could retain over 90% of original capacity after hundreds of charge cycles.
When Can We Expect Solid State?
The million dollar question is: when will solid state batteries hit the big time?
They still face challenges around scaling up production and costs. But if these engineering puzzles can be solved, experts anticipate mainstream adoption in the next 5-10 years.
For environmentally minded drivers, this power source could truly accelerate the age of EVs. Lighter, smaller, safer batteries with lightning quick charging would remove many barriers to mass EV adoption.
We may soon say goodbye to gas guzzlers for good!
While some kinks are still being ironed out, solid state battery tech promises to charge ahead of lithium ion as the battery of the future. Safer, more stable and packing more power, it could electrify the auto industry once manufacturing hurdles are cleared.
So while we may not find these next-gen batteries under the hood just yet, the EV revolution is well on its way.
Craig J Todd – Freelance writer with a passion for tech, trends and simplicity.