Mercedes’ EVs to be powered by solid-state batteries. What are these batteries?

Mercedes developing solid state batteries for EVs   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Most electronic products and electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries to store power and to run devices.

But Mercedes-Benz AG is working with a Canadian battery material specialist Hydro-Québec to develop solid state batteries for its electric cars.

The duo agree that solid-state lithium metal batteries will be the next important milestone in electric vehicle technology.

"Our development programme will allow us to test new materials, and respond to the concerns of automobile manufacturers," said Karim Zaghib, General Manager of Hydro-Québec’s center of excellence in transportation electrification and energy storage.

Solid-state batteries use a solid electrolyte, instead of the liquid electrolyte used in lithium-ion batteries.

A battery stores chemical energy, and converts it into electrical energy. It has three basic parts: anode, cathode, and electrolyte. Cathode is the positive end of the battery, and anode is negative; they are the two electrodes. And electrolyte transports ions, electrically charged atoms, between the two ends.

Solid state batteries with a very high energy density can store more energy than lithium ion batteries. They can also last longer, and are safer to use, said Zaghib.

The chemical reactions in the battery causes a build up of electrons at the anode and a shortage of electrons at the cathode. This results in an electrical difference between the anode and the cathode. The electrons want to get rid of this difference and move to the cathode.

But the electrolyte blocks the electrons from moving from the anode to the cathode within the battery.

If the battery is connected to an external circuit, the electrons move through it. This flow of electrons provides an electric current that can be used to do work.

Solid electrolytes open up the scope of using new types of anode like lithium metal. This makes it possible to have higher energy content with better safety than today’s graphite anode.

New generations of these materials will be quick to charge and are non-flammable.

The companies are now working on a ceramic solution that can be used as solid-state electrolytes. Ceramic materials are stable in very high temperatures. They can also tolerate such high temperatures during fast charging.

There is not one battery technology that can suit all industries and applications. We will need diverse energy storage technologies for a sustainable future, said Zaghib.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 12:49:11 AM |

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