Semisolid Lithium Ion Batteries Promise Better Cars, Solar

Lithium-ion batteries make possible smaller and lighter electronics. Unfortunately, they are also costly to produce. In a conventional lithium-ion battery, many thin layers create the finished product much like filo dough in baklava. A startup company called 24M thinks they have the answer to making less expensive lithium-ion batteries: a semisolid electrode made by mixing powders and liquid to form an electrolyte goo.

Not only will the batteries be cheaper and faster to create, but the cost of the factory will be less. Currently, 24M has a pilot manufacturing line, but by 2020 they expect to scale to produce batteries that cost less than $100 per kilowatt hour (today’s costs are about $200 to $250 for conventional batteries). Under $100, the batteries become competitive with the cost of internal combustion engines, according to the article.

We recently covered the insides of conventional lithium-ion cells. There’s also other battery technologies on the horizon like lithium-air and solid state batteries.

28 thoughts on “Semisolid Lithium Ion Batteries Promise Better Cars, Solar

    1. Anything is sustainable if you’re willing to pay enough…
      Increase in prices will drive more recycling and make unused reserves more profitable (Afghanistan is one of these untapped reserves btw), lithium is very abundant on Earth…

    2. You didn’t read this paragraph from your own link then:
      “However, according to a 2011 study conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, the currently estimated reserve base of lithium should not be a limiting factor for large-scale battery production for electric vehicles because an estimated 1 billion 40 kWh Li-based batteries could be built with current reserves[84] – about 10 kg of lithium per car.[85] Another 2011 study by researchers from the University of Michigan and Ford Motor Company found sufficient resources to support global demand until 2100, including the lithium required for the potential widespread transportation use. The study estimated global reserves at 39 million tons, and total demand for lithium during the 90-year period analyzed at 12–20 million tons, depending on the scenarios regarding economic growth and recycling rates.[86]”
      Plus it’s highly recyclable and the numbers only take in to account known economically extractable reserves. Total lithium is thought to be at least 10 times this amount.

      1. Not to mention, “Worldwide identified reserves in 2008 were estimated by the US Geological Survey (USGS) as 13 million tonnes, though it is difficult to accurately estimate the world’s lithium reserves.” So we don’t know if we have a shortage or a plenitude.

    1. No. SLA gell cells are still just like regular wet cell batteries. The difference is the electrolyte, being of a gell material, allows the battery to be positioned in several different ways. Also, it makes the battery non serviceable. In the case of lithium ion batteries, they already use a viscous electrolyte, but the cell dividers are replaced. It’s cheaper to roll on a pasted material, and it appears to improve electron transportation.

    1. Try this article instead:

      http://qz.com/433131/the-story-of-the-invention-that-could-revolutionize-batteries-and-maybe-american-manufacturing-as-well/

      Which includes some technical details, key info (24M is run by the founder of A123), and some interesting historical info (lithium batteries were originally made by machines intended to produce cassette tapes). Seems at least feasible after reading this, rather than the TechnologyReview article which makes it sound like utter BS.

        1. The 24M lithium is just as dangerous. This could actually be a little more dangerous, as current lithium batteries can survive some impact damage due to the solid plastic dividers, where this newer material may fail and allow internal shorts when struck.

    1. Potentially they will be more dangerous because with less other stuff in it that means they will be able to pack even more lithium into the same space with less structural protection.

      1. They are not safer, they are just less likely to fail in specific ways that are a subset of all failure modes. Don’t ask the people who make them, ask the people who insure the companies that transport them if you want an unbiased risk assessment. :-)

  1. I’ve been reading science magazines as a teenager since the early 80’s. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen articles about electric cars and how they are just around the corner if we could just have a better battery. The fact of the matter is that the cars are more comfortable but the range and refueling time is seriously lacking.

    1. In 1900 they had electric cars that could go 100 miles on a single 8 hour charge and today they have electric cars that can goo 250 miles on an 8 hour charge, should be ready for prime time in 2500.

          1. Exactly, and they are ideal for static power storage as they are not a fire risk, even during a fire, you can’t say that about other options. Imagine what happens if a house scale battery catches fire, even due to a normal house fire, and the firefighter hit the damage unit with water, boom hydrogen explosion.

      1. You should also look up the speed at which the 1900’s car did so and how much they carried… If you take a modern one and travel at the same speeds and load conditions, you’d be amazed at the range.
        Going fast requires energy.

  2. Not to join the ‘This isn’t a hack’ crowd, but could we have tags for ‘Press Release’ so we know not to take them at face value? One for ‘review of scientific paper’ would be interesting as well.

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