Solid State: The Future of the EV Battery
Updated: Mar 21
Some of the most exciting news for the battery electric vehicle came into light yesterday with Toyota’s announcement of a battery electric vehicle.
Just when we thought that Toyota’s ingenuity drew the line at the Mirai, they went and surprised us again. What makes Toyota’s EV announcement so significant is that their battery has an estimated charging time of ten minutes. As a standard of comparison, a tesla battery requires a charging time of one to ten hours. Toyota had already made breakthroughs in fuel-cell vehicle technology with the Mirai. Speaking with Toyota Chief Engineer Mr. Andrew Lund, "Shorter hydrogen refueling time vs battery recharging time is one of the advantages that fuel cell electric vehicles have over battery only electric vehicles”. However, this may soon change with the development of Toyota’s new Solid State Battery.
A lot of the articles I have read so far have marveled at the introduction of the solid-state battery, but have not gone into much detail as to what exactly is a solid-state battery and how is it different than the current batteries in EVs. I will break it down for you here, adapted from an article posted by Samsung. Your traditional Lithium-Ion battery has four components, a cathode (where electrons enter the battery), anode (where electrons leave the battery), electrolyte (a medium for ion transport), and a separator to keep the cathode and the anode apart. In this type of battery the electrolyte is liquid and contained inside of the separator, whereas in the solid-state battery, the electrolyte is solid and there is no separator. The advantage of this solid electrolyte is that you have a higher energy density which leads to better energy storage. Another added benefit is that Lithium-ion batteries have the possibility of exploding due to temperature-induced swelling, whereas solid-state batteries do not
So far, the crown for fastest recharge time by a EV battery is held by the Lucid Air. Lucid boasts that they can add 300 miles in 20 minutes in their 2021 Air Sedan. Tesla, the undisputed largest producer of EVs, has a minimum charge time of 7 hours on their Model 3 using the JuiceBox Pro 80 Smart EV Charger. Now, if we look at hydrogen fuel cell vehicles it's a totally different story. Along with the Hyundai Nexo, and the Honda Clarity, the Toyota Mirai is one of the three major fuel cell vehicles out right now and it has a recharge time of 5 minutes for approximately 428 miles. The downside? Hydrogen cost in California (one of two states where the Mirai is available, the other being Hawaii) is $16.50 for one kilogram and the Mirai’s fuel tank holds approximately 5 kg. This comes out to more than $80 for a single tank of fuel, more than double that of a gasoline-powered car. For that reason, unless hydrogen costs significantly decrease in the near future, it will be difficult for many people to join the hydrogen fuel cell crowd.
With the development of this new battery, you get the best of all worlds. Fast charging time? Done. Low-cost? You got it. Environmentally friendly? Of course. Now all we have to do is wait either for Toyota to release it to the public or wait for another brand to steal all of Toyota’s thunder. And with this high growth industry, no one can tell which one it will be.