Automakers aim to make solid-state batteries the standard for electric vehicles over the next decade, and the technological leap is starting to take shape, with a familiar element building its case to become an integral part of the next-generation batteries.
The chemistry can vary a bit based on the specific application, but “a big underlying commonality” of most solid-state batteries in development today is their use of lithium metal for the negative electrode, or anode, said Kunal Phalpher, president of Markham, Ont.-based Li-Metal Corp.
The lightweight metal, he added, is the “key enabler” to bringing safer, range-extending solid-state batteries to market.
While the name is the same, the lithium in the lithium ion batteries that power today’s EVs takes the form of an oxide, and is blended with other key ingredients to make up a battery’s positive cathode. Lithium metal, on the other hand, is lithium in its metallic form. In solid-state batteries, the metal is used as the anode, enabling the battery to pack in far more energy than conventional anodes made of graphite.