Orlando-based startup Planar Energy, a spin-off from the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL), found a new method that could improve the lifetime and stability of batteries used in electric vehicles. The company has created a new printing process of solid-state lithium-ion batteries. Unlike liquid lithium-ion batteries, this process can be used to print solid-state batteries that offer three times more storage.
According to Planar Energy, the conventional batteries can suffer from undesirable chemical reactions that damage the battery’s cathode due to its liquid electrolyte. If this liquid electrolyte is replaced with a solid ion conductor, the lifetime and battery stability could be improved.
Previous efforts to use printing processes to make thicker solid-state batteries have been set back by the lack of a printable solid electrolyte material. But now Planar Energy has developed a roll-to-roll process for making larger lithium-ion batteries. The boost in energy storage capacity is primarily because the company’s batteries don’t require the support structure and materials that take up significant space in conventional batteries, offering more space for energy storage material.
The process can be used to make batteries big enough to power electric vehicles. “These batteries have many of the same attributes as thin-film batteries, but can be packaged in large formats,” says Roland Pitts, a senior scientist at NREL who has agreed to join the company.