Solid-state battery technology is the electric vehicle Holy Grail. Or is it?
Most analysts predict solid-state battery tech will begin to trickle into showrooms inside advanced electric vehicles sometime next decade. The problem, some experts say, is that solid-state shortcomings and manufacturing difficulties present a colossal challenge. There are three companies leading the way to confront this challenge: Sakti3, Planar Energy and hybrid-extraordinaire Toyota.

In theory, solid-state batteries are more stable than current li-ion tech and weigh significantly less. If they can be made to work affordably, solid-state batteries could be the breakthrough that electric vehicles need to transform them from urban runabouts to everyday rides for a majority of drivers.

Scott Faris, chief executive officer of Planar Energy, says his firm has identified a solid-state electrolyte that could forever change the automotive industry:
This fundamental materials breakthrough, coupled with our proprietary low-cost manufacturing process, will render traditional chemical batteries obsolete. It will allow solid-state battery fabrication that will enable manufacturers to increase their capacity by 200 to 300 percent, while reducing costs more than 50 percent.
Bill Wallace, General Motors' director of global battery systems engineering, states:
Though risky, we do believe that solid-state lithium ion batteries have merit and we are working on their development. We see them on a potential five-year time horizon, assuming certain significant shortcomings can be resolved.
Five years? That's awful soon. But not everyone suggests holding your breath quite yet. Jon Bereisa, chief executive officer of consulting firm Auto Lectrification, doesn't expect solid-state technology to be ready to go primetime until 2025.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 22 Comments
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Years Ago
      Again, another unfinisched story postponed to the end of time. It's clear that we live in a communist world driven by mad scientists, speculators, fake president that is an employee of wall streets speculators. Business is a product for sale for cash somewhere. It's big oil that impede the coming of the green car that is already invented since a long time and they cash tremendous amount of money selling sticky mud called petrol instead of something green.
        sirvixisvexed
        • 3 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        that was a really messed up answer gorr, are you going to set yourself on fire or blow something up?
        Larz Larzen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        Gorr - you're great entertainment. Do you have a second and third act?
        goodoldgorr
        • 3 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        Yes but not before 2016, LOL:)
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        Wow! We have communists (he sounds right wing) Speculators (left wing) Fake President (loony right wing) Wall Street Speculators (left wing) Big Oil stopping green car (left wing) Already invented (loony left wing) The only thing missing is something on Sarah Palin.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      let's see an actual battery instead of paper tigers..
        Marco Polo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        I wish a actual tiger would batter you!
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Dan - even though I know that I will be one of the first up against the wall once you come to power, I too would not mind hearing of the actual battery, or at least a test model, prior to hype starting. Then watch, we will all be driving hydrogen powered cars in 10 years....(of course, I will have been shot in the Dear Leader's Great Revolution of the People in 2018, as I was in one of the first groups stood up against the wall, shouting, "I support reduced regulation" prior to the fire order is given).
        sirvixisvexed
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Those aren't paper tigers, they're paper leopards, some origami expert YOU are....
      Neil Blanchard
      • 3 Years Ago
      Doesn't DBM Energy have a solid state battery -- the Kolibri, right now? Neil
      Marco Polo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Oh! what a panel discussion it would make: Interviewer: What do you think is the next big step in EV battery development? Scott Faris: CEO Planar Energy, (with a newly identified solid-state electrolyte in advanced R&D development) "Well, the future of development is improving with solid state battery technology." Toyota Executive, "yes, very exciting, better every year, what do you think, Scott, how long ..5-7 years? Scott Faris: "Possibly, it's potentially feasible..." GM's Bill Wallace: (enthusiastically) "Yep! It could be done in 5 years, if the problems can be resolved." Jon Bereisa, CEO Auto Lectrification, (with no solid state R&D consulting contract) " mumble, mumble, snort, "take twenty years or more, that's if it even works! mumble, grumble" Loud interruption from audience as the security eject a weird Little creature, screaming "douche-bags, not green, listen to me" ! (outside a large female police officer, having been racially abused, gives DF a first hand battery experience by Tasering the indignant troll!) This development is only the start of the EV batteries evolution. The technology with rapidly increase with investment and continued research.
        sirvixisvexed
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        "Loud interruption from audience as the security eject a weird Little creature, screaming "douche-bags, not green, listen to me" !" Hahaha!
      j
      • 3 Years Ago
      Eric, what are the challenges and significant shortcomings; mentioned but not enumerated? 2 X Menace, the post above tells most of the story. Also, "University of Leeds lead by Professor Ian Ward have created a new type of polymer gel electrolyte," “The polymer gel looks like a solid film, but it actually contains about 70% liquid electrolyte,” Ward says of the new materials. “It's made using the same principles as making a jelly: you add lots of hot water to 'gelatine' – in this case there is a polymer and electrolyte mix – and as it cools it sets to form a solid but flexible mass,” And, "National University of Singapore's Nanoscience and Nanotechnology institute (NUSNNI) are looking into a new type of energy storage membrane." "The research team, headed by Dr. Xie Xian Ning, used a membrane made of a polystyrene-based polymer to deposit a soft and foldable membrane that can be packed between two metal plates and charged."
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's all vaporware until something actually comes to market. Yes, solid state batteries would be a game changer, but then again so are lithium batteries and BEVs. Electric vehicles are here to stay. The solid state battery would put electric vehicles mainstream without any government intervention. Again, not holding my breath...The electric vehicles out now meet more than 80% of the public's needs.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @zahaylu As the token radical right wing extremist, I might consider 80%. Right now, we have...what - 30% (assuming a gas powered car can go at least 300 miles and a Leaf can go like, 90)? Although I am supposed to want dirty air and dirty water (why do I want that anyway?), I really don't mind a silent car I can sneak up on people with, and honk my horn and scare them (okay, Evil Right Wing Extremist). I also like to tweak my left wing associates. When I bought my Ranger, I did buy the Flex Fuel model that has an ULEV rating - and that rating, really DID count when I bought it, as I knew I could ask my left wing associates, "Do you even KNOW what your car's emmision rating is? No, you mean, you didn't even CARE enough to find out? MY car's rating is ULEV, which means, I care MORE than YOU DO!" To which then they bow their heads in shame and I win.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          @EZEE No EZEE, we all win. We all win....
        • 3 Years Ago
        The problem is, the public doesn't feel the need for EVs. Devil's advocate says why settle for 80%?
      Roy_H
      • 3 Years Ago
      It is appreciated to get even the smallest tidbit of news about this kind of progress. Researchers the world over work for years in almost total obscurity and then when they have found something of significant importance, we hear about it. Typically a number of news articles will show up as investment is sought (private and/or government) where the next phase is developed. This second phase is where the concept which might be very expensive in the lab is refined to lower cost and develop a manufacturing protocol. Usually little information is released during this second phase unless there is continuing need to raise more investment. Finally prototype products are released for evaluation by potential customers and the third stage commences where engineering is applied to mass produce. Planar Energy and Sakti3 are in the second phase and I have read nothing about Sakti3 other than what has been said in the article. There is no technical information on their web site at all. I assume that Bill Wallace's statement about resolving "certain significant shortcomings" is indicative of where Sakti3 is at, since GM is an investor. Planar Energy, however has a description of their process (in general terms of course) and stated over a year ago that they expected to have prototype production machinery installed and running by now. Planar Energy has been much more bullish in that they claim to have solved all major issues and it is just a matter of working out the details. Based on this very limited information, I think that Planar Energy is much closer to producing a prototype battery than Sakti3. Assuming they actually demonstrate a battery within the next year, it will still take several years to move on to commercial production. Therefore my earliest estimate for the solid state battery being available is 2016.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      I do keep up on lithium battery news... but i've never heard of solid state batteries. Anyone care to clue me in?
        • 3 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        Pretty legit, I believe: ' Planar Energy has identified a new class of solid-state electrolytes that have conductivity of 10-4 in measured samples and 10-3 in functional battery calculations. The conductivity ranges displayed allow for high-rate batteries required in automotive applications. Planar Energy’s solid state electrolyte materials are deposited as thin films directly on active layers in the battery, eliminating the historic process of having to deposit films on separate substrates and then mechanically joining them. Planar Energy’s electrolytes demonstrate the same performance level of liquid electrolytes currently used by the lithium-ion industry, but they are in a solid form factor. Planar Energy’s change in form factor simplifies the battery manufacturing process and enables existing battery chemistries to function at 95% of their theoretical value. Planar Energy’s batteries will be intrinsically safe, allowing customers to further reduce packaging requirements, as well as simplify the battery management system. Planar Energy’s batteries have virtually no self discharge, allowing them to sit for long periods of time while retaining their charge. Traditional lithium-ion batteries have high discharge rates that are problematic for automotive applications. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2010/03/planar-20100301.html#more
        Dave D
        • 3 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        Yes, they look promising. I believe one of the Florida Universities has been verifying the work that Planar is doing and it looks legit. I'm betting on Sakti because that lady running the show has her act together and seems REALLY sharp to me...and they have backing from GM's venture fund as well as Khosla and others.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      has an actual Wh/kg been demonstrated? or even claimed. when battery companies avoid this key metric then they are dishonest. Sastry has said 2-3 times the energy density. but is that by weight and compared to what? current commercial lithium products range from 55 to 230Wh/kg. lithium sulfur demonstrated at 350Wh/kg. so 2-3x what?? another way to look at it is my law of smooth transitions. it says that any promised technology will only arrive when the established technologies have slowly progressed to match the new technology specs as well as the new tech being less than promised. in this specific case let's say 2-3x is relative to 100Wh/kg and the tech will fall a bit short so say 240Wh/kg. that basically exists now. as for the price claim of 50%, that'll fall short too, in part because normal lithium will have dropped a bit, and the rest through greed and over optimism. "priced competitively" means no progress.
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