Chinese researchers develop new low-cost material to boost solid state battery production

Chinese researchers develop new low-cost material to boost solid state battery production

A team at researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) claimed to have developed an innovative material that has the potential to trim down the production costs of solid state lithium EV batteries. The new battery material, dubbed lithium zirconium chloride (Li2ZrCl6), will reportedly reduce the production cost of EV batteries while keeping performance stable. The new material is expected to accelerate solid state battery production, which has long been a dream of engineers working in electric vehicle segment.

Scientists have made a number of breakthroughs in the battery production technology over the past few years through experiments with materials like electrolytes and cathodes, but all those breakthroughs failed to bring down the cost of mass production of solid state batteries without affecting performance.
Some automakers like Fisker Inc. and NIO have already promised solid state battery technologies, but they took U-turn after some time. In 2017, Fisker had announced a solid state battery breakthrough with the claim that it would take just one minute to replenish the exhausted battery pack. But, it ditched the project years later.

Similarly, Chinese automobile manufacturer NIO had promised that it would develop a 150 kWh solid-state battery capable of delivering 1000 km (roughly 621 miles) of range on a single full charge. Later, the company said that the battery developed by it was a “semi-solid state” battery as it contained liquid electrolyte as well.

But the team of Chinese researchers, led by Prof. Ma Cheng, claims that the new material developed by it will help accelerate the process of solid state battery production, thanks to its potential to reduce costs and keep performance stable.

The research, titled a cost-effective & humidity-tolerant chloride solid electrolyte for lithium batteries, also provide details on how effective the new material could be in revolutionizing the EV battery technology.

Prof. Cheng, who led the research, explained, “Its raw materials are several orders of magnitude cheaper than those for the state-of-the-art chloride solid electrolytes, but high ionic conductivity, deformability, and compatibility with 4V-class cathodes are still simultaneously achieved in Li2ZrCl6. Moreover, Li2ZrCl6 demonstrates a humidity tolerance.”

As per Prof. Cheng’s claims, his team was able to successfully trim down the cost of the battery raw material to $1.38/m² for 50 micron thickness. It is far cheaper than current lowest solid state electrolyte cost of $23.05/m².

The researchers stressed that solid state electrolyte materials can easily replace liquid electrolytes entirely, but on condition that mass production maintains balance between cost and performance.