Reinventing how these batteries are made also improves their performance and recyclability
An advanced manufacturing approach for lithium-ion batteries, developed by researchers at MIT and at a spinoff company called 24M, promises to significantly slash the cost of the most widely used type of rechargeable batteries while also improving their performance and making them easier to recycle.
“We’ve reinvented the process,” says Yet-Ming Chiang, the Kyocera Professor of Ceramics at MIT and a co-founder of 24M (and previously a co-founder of battery company A123). The existing process for manufacturing lithium-ion batteries, he says, has hardly changed in the two decades since the technology was invented, and is inefficient, with more steps and components than are really needed.
The new process is based on a concept developed five years ago by Chiang and colleagues including W. Craig Carter, the POSCO Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. In this so-called “flow battery,” the electrodes are suspensions of tiny particles carried by a liquid and pumped through various compartments of the battery.
The new battery design is a hybrid between flow batteries and conventional solid ones: In this version, while the electrode material does not flow, it is composed of a similar semisolid, colloidal suspension of particles. Chiang and Carter refer to this as a “semisolid battery.”
Simpler manufacturing process
This approach greatly simplifies manufacturing, and also makes batteries that are flexible and resistant to damage, says Chiang, who is senior author of a paper in the Journal of Power Sources analyzing the tradeoffs involved in choosing between solid and flow-type batteries, depending on their particular applications and chemical components.
This analysis demonstrates that while a flow-battery system is appropriate for battery chemistries with a low energy density (those that can only store a limited amount of energy for a given weight), for high-energy-density devices such as lithium-ion batteries, the extra complexity and components of a flow system would add unnecessary extra cost.
Almost immediately after publishing the earlier research on the flow battery, Chiang says, “We realized that a better way to make use of this flowable electrode technology was to reinvent the [lithium ion] manufacturing process.”
Instead of the standard method of applying liquid coatings to a roll of backing material, and then having to wait for that material to dry before it can move to the next manufacturing step, the new process keeps the electrode material in a liquid state and requires no drying stage at all. Using fewer, thicker electrodes, the system reduces the conventional battery architecture’s number of distinct layers, as well as the amount of nonfunctional material in the structure, by 80 percent.
Having the electrode in the form of tiny suspended particles instead of consolidated slabs greatly reduces the path length for charged particles as they move through the material — a property known as “tortuosity.” A less tortuous path makes it possible to use thicker electrodes, which, in turn, simplifies production and lowers cost.
Bendable and foldable
In addition to streamlining manufacturing enough to cut battery costs by half, Chiang says, the new system produces a battery that is more flexible and resilient. While conventional lithium-ion batteries are composed of brittle electrodes that can crack under stress, the new formulation produces battery cells that can be bent, folded or even penetrated by bullets without failing. This should improve both safety and durability, he says.
The Latest on: Semisolid battery
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The Latest on: Semisolid battery
- 24M Delivers 40 Grid-scale Battery Cells to GPSC for Module Build and Application Validation on April 30, 2019 at 5:00 pm
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- Are Semi-Solid State Batteries A Gamechanger? on February 28, 2019 at 2:07 pm
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- Dark Horse In Battery Tech Could Beat Tesla on December 19, 2018 at 3:00 pm
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- 24M Raises $21.8M to Accelerate SemiSolid Battery Development and Deployment on December 17, 2018 at 12:48 pm
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--24M announced today it has raised a $21.8 million Series D to accelerate the deployment of its simple, capital-efficient, low-cost manufacturing process and the ... […]
- 24M Raises $21.8M in Series D Funding on December 17, 2018 at 6:54 am
24M, a Cambridge, Mass.-based provider of a semisolid lithium-ion battery, raised $21.8m in Series D funding. The round was led by advanced ceramics manufacturer Kyocera Group and global trading ... […]
- 24M Raises $21.8M to Accelerate SemiSolid Battery Development and Deployment on December 17, 2018 at 5:05 am
24M announced today it has raised a $21.8 million Series D to accelerate the deployment of its simple, capital-efficient, low-cost manufacturing process and the development of differentiated, high ... […]
- 24M Raises $21.8M to Accelerate SemiSolid Battery Development and Deployment on December 16, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Series D Funds to Scale Lithium-ion Battery Production and Develop Affordable and Advanced, High Energy Density EV Solutions CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – December 17, 2018 – 24M announced today it has raised a ... […]
- First solid-state lithium batteries to be used in drones this year on July 2, 2018 at 5:00 am
The very first semisolid lithium batteries will make their debut this year. Those initial batteries will be used inside drones, but the batteries will come to other applications in the next few years. ... […]
- First Semisolid Lithium Batteries to Debut This Year, in Drones on June 22, 2018 at 8:02 am
The device is technically a semisolid battery but safer than conventional lithium-ion cells, Hu says. The battery’s energy density is about 500 watt-hours per kilogram, twice that of a conventional ... […]
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