A solid-state electrolyte that is able to compete with liquid electrolytes for rechargeable batteries

June 14, 2017 by Cornelia Zogg, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology
Credit: Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology

Liquid lithium-ion rechargeable batteries are dangerous. They can leak or ignite rapidly if they become overheated. So-called solid-state lithium-ion batteries are a way of reducing these risks. However, these batteries have not (yet) reached the performance level of their liquid counterparts. However, researchers at Empa have now developed a solid-state electrolyte that is able to compete with liquid electrolytes.

The requirements placed on an are high: it must be conductive, be able to withstand high voltages and remain electrochemically and thermally stable over a long period of time. This applies to both liquid electrolytes and solid-state electrolytes. The latter are admittedly already available on the market, but not yet as mass-produced products, despite being considered to be safer than their liquid equivalents. The problem is that they have a major disadvantage: they do not yet achieve the same high conductivity as liquid electrolytes.

At least not until recently. An Empa research team from the Laboratory of Materials for Energy Conversion, led by Arndt Remhof, has recently succeeded in developing a solid-state electrolyte with a similarly . The group selected amide-borohydride as the material, which is a complex hydride used in solid-state electrolytes along with oxides and thiophosphates. "With this approach, we were able to raise the material class of the complex hydrides to a new level," explains Remhof proudly. This means that the conductivity of the solid-state electrolyte developed at Empa is comparable to a at room temperature. The innovative solid-state electrolyte is also stable at temperatures of up to 150 degrees Celsius, whereas liquid electrolytes pose a safety risk at such high temperatures.

Withstanding high voltages

However, the project is still in its early stages and will have to overcome a number of issues. For example, the borohydride has so far only been able to handle a voltage of one volt. This is not enough for a marketable battery. In order to tackle this problem, researchers are now working on the development of alternative boron compounds, and have already achieved a voltage of three volts. Thus, the first steps have been taken to replace liquid lithium-ion batteries with solid-state rechargeable batteries in the future as the researchers state in the latest issue of Advanced Energy Materials.

An another project, the Empa research team is already developing batteries that are completely free of lithium, as there is not an unlimited supply of this; the team recently presented a solid-state electrolyte for future magnesium and sodium batteries (see here).

Explore further: Sodium and magnesium to replace lithium in batteries

Related Stories

Sodium and magnesium to replace lithium in batteries

May 2, 2017

Scientists supported by the SNSF have produced novel electrolytes for rechargeable sodium and magnesium batteries. The research group's objective was to develop alternatives to lithium-ion technology.

Freezing lithium batteries may make them safer and bendable

April 24, 2017

Yuan Yang, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Columbia Engineering, has developed a new method that could lead to lithium batteries that are safer, have longer battery life, and are bendable, providing ...

Melting, coating, and all-solid-state lithium batteries

January 1, 2016

The joint research team of Prof. Yoon Seok Jung (UNIST, School of Energy and Chemical Engineering) and Prof. Seng M. Oh (Seoul National University) discovered a new way to develop all-solid-state lithium batteries without ...

Solid batteries improve safety

August 16, 2016

Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a lithium-ion battery made entirely of solid material: it contains neither liquids nor gels. The battery cannot ignite, even at very high temperatures, giving it a safety advantage ...

Recommended for you

Electrode shape improves neurostimulation for small targets

April 24, 2018

A cross-like shape helps the electrodes of implantable neurostimulation devices to deliver more charge to specific areas of the nervous system, possibly prolonging device life span, says research published in March in Scientific ...

China auto show highlights industry's electric ambitions

April 22, 2018

The biggest global auto show of the year showcases China's ambitions to become a leader in electric cars and the industry's multibillion-dollar scramble to roll out models that appeal to price-conscious but demanding Chinese ...

Robot designed for faster, safer uranium plant pipe cleanup

April 21, 2018

Ohio crews cleaning up a massive former Cold War-era uranium enrichment plant in Ohio plan this summer to deploy a high-tech helper: an autonomous, radiation-measuring robot that will roll through miles of large overhead ...

How social networking sites may discriminate against women

April 20, 2018

Social media and the sharing economy have created new opportunities by leveraging online networks to build trust and remove marketplace barriers. But a growing body of research suggests that old gender and racial biases persist, ...

Virtually modelling the human brain in a computer

April 19, 2018

Neurons that remain active even after the triggering stimulus has been silenced form the basis of short-term memory. The brain uses rhythmically active neurons to combine larger groups of neurons into functional units. Until ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.