Have you ever wondered what 94 year old John Goodenough, co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, is doing?? He is hoping to find another breakthrough in battery technology. I think, he has succeded. A team of scientists under him has developed the first all-solid-state battery cells that could lead to safer, faster-charging, longer-lasting rechargeable batteries for handheld mobile devices, electric cars and stationary energy storage.The new battery uses a sodium- or lithium-coated glass electrolyte that triples the energy density of lithium-ion, it also recharges in minutes, survives thousands charging cycles, operates across a wide range of temperatures (-4˚ F to 140˚ F) and wont cause fire. Unlike today’s lithium-ion batteries, glass electrolytes are used which prevents formation of dendrites or metal whiskers that leads to short circuits and fires. Since the solid-glass electrolytes have high conductivity, at -20 degrees Celsius, this type of battery in a car could perform well in subzero degree weather. This is the first all-solid-state battery cell that can operate under 60 degree Celsius.
Conventional lithium-ion batteries can be dangerous because they contain a flammable electrolyte under pressure. The batteries produce electricity as lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging. Here instead of the flammable electrolytes glass anodes are used. The use of an alkali-metal anode (lithium, sodium or potassium) which isn’t possible with conventional batteries increases the energy density of a cathode and delivers a long cycle life.
Goodenough thinks to replace lithium with sodium. Sodium and lithium are both alkali metals, with the same +1 charge. But sodium, which is commonly available, and can be extracted from sea water,which could make the new battery chemistry less expensive than lithium-ion cells.The cells would function at a lower temperature than lithium-ion batteries, and they can be manufactured out of Conventional batteries aren’t able to use an alkali-metal-anode such as sodium.
Solid-state Li-on battery appears to contain only one electrochemical in the opposing electrodes either metallic lithium or sodium. How will voltage flow takes place if there is no difference in the chemical potentials (Fermi energies) between the two metallic electrodes?? According to Goodenough, the answer is that if the lithium plated on the cathode current collector is thin enough for its reaction with the current collector to have its Fermi energy lowered to that of the current collector, the Fermi energy of the lithium anode is higher than that of the thin lithium plated on the cathode current collector.
Cost, safety, energy density, rates of charge and discharge and cycle life are critical factors for battery-driven cars. For that these are the best option. Goodenough added that this new battery technology could also store intermittent solar and wind power on the electric grid. If the glass batteries can be scaled up commercially, which remains uncertain in this still-proof-of-concept-phase research, will be a great break through in battery technology. I really hope this will help battery makers to develop and test their new materials in electric vehicles and energy storage devices.