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Planar Energy, a spin-off of the National Renewable Energy Laboratories, has quietly been developing solid-state battery technology and remains convinced that the future of electric vehicle batteries is solid-state technology. The Orlando-based company believes that its solid-state design could potentially offer more power output and higher energy storage density than a typical lithium ion battery. As Planar Energy notes, typical lithium ion batteries lack stability and longevity due to undesirable chemical reactions that can occur in the liquid-based electrolytes. If you replace the reactive liquid electrolyte with a solid ion conductor, the solid-state battery is born.
Up until now, solid-state battery technology has been difficult to scale up to the size required by the automotive industry. Planar Energy claims to have solved the issue by developing a roll-to-roll deposition process that allows larger solid-state batteries. Planar Energy will build a pilot production line next year and hopes to begin manufacturing its batteries for high-tech electronic devices. If all goes as planned, the company will scale up efforts and begin development work on automotive batteries. Follow the jump to learn more about Planar Energy's recent advancements in solid-state battery technology. Hat tip to David!

[Source: Planar Energy, Technology Review]

PRESS RELEASE

Solid State Breakthrough for Ultimate Performance


Planar Energy's new generation of inorganic solid state electrolyte and electrode materials combined with a proprietary manufacturing process (Streaming Protocol for Electroless Electrochemical Deposition, or SPEED) comprises a materials performance and fabrication breakthrough that overcomes the production and cost barriers to low-cost, solid state, large format batteries.

Our proprietary methodology will produce batteries that are superior to existing lithium-ion at less than half the cost per kilowatt-hour and with three times the energy density. These dramatic cost and performance improvements will move the automotive industry forward substantially on the path to make electric vehicles practical and affordable.

The methodology begins with a fundamental materials innovation: Our solid state electrolytes produce ionic conductivity metrics comparable to liquid electrolytes used in traditional chemical batteries. Unlike traditional chemical batteries that contain liquid electrolytes, polymers and solvents, making them less safe and prone to shorter battery life, Planar Energy's solid state batteries are comprised of all inorganic materials and have no liquids, eliminating the possibility of dangerous chemical reactions and the need for complex packaging requirements. Planar's electrolyte chemistries have more than 1,000 times the conductivity of vacuum-deposited electrolytes and ionic conductivity equal to that of high-performance liquid electrolytes, but without their drawbacks.

SPEED: A New Deposition Process

The ability to fabricate this new generation of advanced materials is a result of Planar Energy's innovations in materials deposition and device manufacturing. Planar Energy's new deposition process, SPEED, eliminates the need for costly and time-consuming vacuum deposition that is historically required for inorganic films. It also produces energy storage films that are significantly superior to slurry and polymer-based films used in traditional chemical batteries.

SPEED is a low-cost, high-speed, roll-to-roll deposition process, which is significantly more flexible and scalable than existing deposition methods. Using water-based precursors, SPEED allows for the direct growth of self-assembled films directly on flexible substrates or directly on top of other films. Film growth is done under ambient conditions and with growth rates exceeding 1 micron/minute over large surface areas. SPEED-deposited films can range from single element films or complex inorganic chemistries with excellent stochiometry. SPEED-deposited films meet or exceed all performance metrics of comparable chemistries grown in a vacuum process.

The SPEED process is compatible with a vast array of known compound materials systems and it enables entirely new compound materials not achievable in vacuum or slurry-coating processes. Planar Energy's proprietary electrolytes are based upon unique chemistries that cannot be achieved in vacuum deposition.


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  • 11 Comments
      • 4 Months Ago
      Go Planar!
      This is one critical step in making EVs practical. And even better, if I read between the lines properly, this 50% reduction in price will be almost immediate with further reductions in the future as volume goes up and the technology matures.
      Combined with other processes such as what Stanford University is attempting http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?ch=specialsections&sc=batteries&id=24758 will hopefully bring the breakthrough we need by 2015.
      • 4 Months Ago
      This exactly what the industry needs to achieve the mainstream EV with more accepted range and cost.

      Hopefully for them they will be able to partner or JV with a major automaker(s) during the current rush to form alliances with battery producers.

      The timing for this technological leap is perfect timing. Exciting times.
      • 4 Months Ago
      This article was printed in the Technology Review.

      Someone from Planar indicated their design objectives in the comment section.

      400 Wh/Kg at $300 per KWh with cycle life equivalent to current thin film. Looks promising. See quotes below.

      While your estimate is good for the specific energy of the cathode material, I would like to point out that inclusion of the other parts of the cell gives a more realistic value. The design point for the prototype Planar cell, fully packaged, with a capacity of 5 Ah, is a specific energy of a little over 400 Wh/kg. The energy density of this cell is a little over 1200 Wh/l. Larger cells will yield numbers that are improved a bit. These numbers are not as high as your estimate, but are still substantial improvements over current, high-end Li-ion cells. We anticipate having these cells in durability testing in less than a year.

      Battery cost for transportation applications is a huge issue, and this is one of the compelling arguments for changing the battery materials processing paradigm along with its structure. Planar is not using bulk powders of either electrode materials, but growing each active layer in situ from relatively low-cost precursors. Using current cost estimates for commodity scale precursor materials, the models indicate that we can get under the $300/kWh mark and meet the DOE goals for battery costs. Additional savings can be had because of the inherent safety of the solid-state format and their tolerance for abuse. This simplifies the balance of system and further reduces the delivered cost of the battery. How low can Planar go on the cost? We don't know yet, but keeping the battery cost low is part of the optimization process.

      since there are very high energy cells that operate only for a few cycles! The Planar cell design is based upon all solid-state, inorganic materials with high stability windows. We anticipate shelf and cyclic lifetimes similar to the thin film batteries, and thermal tolerance that is better than current Li-ion batteries. The packaging materials may turn out to be the limitation on thermal tolerance. It is worth noting that if our efforts to minimize the interfacial impedance between the active materials are successful, internal heat generation will not be a significant issue, even at high C-rates.
      • 4 Months Ago

      Link to an article with a photo of a cell ("a block of eight ultra-thin batteries") @

      http://newenergyandfuel.com/http:/newenergyandfuel/com/2010/03/04/a-major-lithium-ion-battery-improvement-is-verified/

      ..."Faris seems bent on getting to a 75% cost reduction with the 2 to 3 fold capacity increase. "...
      • 4 Months Ago
      'Our proprietary methodology will produce batteries that are superior to existing lithium-ion at less than half the cost per kilowatt-hour and with three times the energy density.'

      I wish I had some real numbers, but I can't find any! 3 times the energy density of the Panasonics would put you on nearly 900wh/kg, but somehow I don't think so! :-)
        • 4 Months Ago
        I agree. It sounds great but it also sounds like EEStor....
        • 4 Months Ago
        From their pdf "One of them combines lithium manganese oxide with other ions, and operates at about three to five volts with a charge capacity of 200 milliamp hours per gram.". That's around 700Wh/kg if operated with 3.5 volts. 1000Wh/kg is 5 volts.

        Pretty good, I'd say. 700Wh/kg would give 100kWh battery weight about 140kg (and volumetric energy density is usually even higher, so size is probably about same as medium-size gas tank). Add supporting structure and you have around 200kg 300mile battery.

        Can't say if that is just a another EEStor -like scam or if it is true. I hope it is true. That is not extreme density for battery considering what I have read from peer-reviewed science journals, just a bit faster here than I expected.
        • 4 Months Ago
        gasoline has an energy density of 46.4Mj/kg or 12888wh/kg. But in an electric car you only really need 1-2 gallons of gas energy equivalent.

        one gallon of gas = 33000 watt-hours
        33000 / 900 = 36.7kg or 80lbs = weight of solid state battery pack to hold 1ge.

        This would give you 100-150 mile range in a BEV. Double the pack and you would have 200-300 mile range for the weight of one passenger. Presumably solid state batteries would offer faster charging and the light weight would make battery swapping easier.
        • 4 Months Ago
        Nah. The basic idea is sound enough, I believe. It is just that like most folk they are not being too specific about info which is competitively valuable - EESTOR were really specific in their bs! ;-)
        • 4 Months Ago
        Hold on Paul! I reckon when they are talking about 3 times the energy density of existing batteries, they are probably on about the around 100wh/kg you typically get at the moment, so I wouldn't count on much more than 300wh/kg.
        That is still pretty good though, and might allow for around a 250 mile range and fast charge, enough for most purposes.
        I hope you are right, but even if they are getting the figures I am laying out here at half the cost, that will work!
      • 4 Months Ago
      Sounds promising...