Researchers at the University of Maryland have developed a new technology that could improve the safety and energy storage of lithium batteries, potentially benefiting electric vehicles (EVs) and other devices. Lithium dendrites, which are damaging branch-like structures that form in all-solid-state lithium batteries, have prevented widespread adoption of this promising technology. However, the researchers have designed a battery “interlayer” that suppresses dendrite growth, offering a path to viable all-solid-state batteries for EVs.
Lithium-ion batteries, which power over 750,000 registered EVs in the US, are popular for their high energy storage but are prone to fires due to the flammable electrolyte they contain. While electric car battery fires are rare, they pose risks to first responders from electric shock and toxic gases. All-solid-state batteries could offer a safer alternative, but overcoming the challenges has been laborious.
The researchers developed a theory for dendrite formation and redesigned the battery’s interlayers to suppress their growth. Their solution involves stabilizing the battery’s interfaces and adding a fluorine-rich interlayer on the cathode side, as well as modifying the anode’s interlayer with magnesium and bismuth. This unique battery structure prevents dendrite formation and improves safety and energy storage.
However, there are still challenges to address before commercialization, including scaling down the solid electrolyte layer to achieve similar thickness to lithium-ion batteries and addressing the high costs of basic materials. Advanced battery manufacturer Solid Power plans to begin trials of the new technology to assess its potential for commercialization, with a target to release the batteries to the market by 2026. Ongoing research aims to further increase energy density.
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