Today’s rechargeable Li-ion batteries have some room for improvement, but not enough to allow vehicles sufficient range and autonomy. Therefore, the researchers at Imec are working on a next generation of batteries, replacing the wet electrolyte with a solid, in order to increase the energy density of the cell.
Now Imec announced it has developed a solid nanocomposite electrolyte with an exceptionally high conductivity of up to 10 mS/cm and with a potential to increase this even further. Imec reaarchers in the meantime made a prototype battery based on the new electrolyte which was applied into the battery cell as a liquid precursor, and solidified afterwards. The prototype battery achieved a volumetric energy density of 200 Wh/liter at a charging speed of 0,5C (2 hours). The results show that solid-state batteries can have the potential to reach the capabilities of wet batteries – “and this using manufacturing processes similar to those for wet batteries,” says Philippe Vereecken, principal scientist and program manager at Imec, “But unlike wet-batteries, the new solid-state batteries will be compatible with metallic lithium anodes with a target of 1,000Wh/liter at a charging speed of 2C (half an hour). This, together with their longer lifetime and improved safety, makes them a promising compact battery technology for tomorrow’s long-range vehicles.”
To further improve the battery performance, Imec is looking into combining nanoparticle electrodes with its solid nanocomposite electrolyte. The institute uses ultra-thin coatings as so-called buffer layers to control the interface between the active electrode and electrolyte. This technology can also be used to improve the performance of standard liquid cells and even for all-solid-state batteries with pressed and sintered inorganic electrolytes.
Bringing innovative battery technology to fruition and transfer it to the market will require the involvement and commitment of the world’s major material suppliers and battery producers, the institute added.