Murata To Deliver Solid State Batteries To Market In The Fall

Solid state batteries have long been promised to us as the solution to our energy storage needs. Theoretically capable of greater storage densities than existing lithium-ion and lithium-polymer cells, while being far safer to boot, they would offer a huge performance boost in all manner of applications.

For those of us dreaming of a 1,000-mile range electric car or a 14-kilowatt power drill, the simple fact remains that the technology just isn’t quite there yet. However, Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd. has just announced that it plans to ship solid state batteries in the fall, which from a glance at the calendar is just weeks away.

It’s exciting news, and we’re sure you’re dying to know – just what are they planning to ship, and how capable are the batteries? Let’s dive in.

Benefits of Solid State over Li-Ion/Li-Po

A graph published by Murata in 2019 regarding the expected performance regime of their upcoming solid-state battery technology.

If you’re unfamiliar with solid-state batteries, the basic idea is to build a battery using only solid materials, eliminating liquid electrolytes as used in lithium-ion batteries. The hope is that this would allow the use of lithium metal as an anode material, which promises a far higher energy density than existing battery designs. Raw lithium metal isn’t used in current battery anodes as it grows harmful dendrites that quickly destroy a battery. The solid state design also brings other benefits, such as greater safety due to the elimination of the flammable liquid electrolyte, and thus faster charging as temperature limits become less critical to avoid blowing everything to pieces. The compelling benefits are there, yet have thus far proved difficult to achieve.

As for Murata, it’s a company well known for producing multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCC) and other similar devices, though they have been branching out into battery technologies after purchasing Sony’s battery division back in 2017. With these new solid state batteries, the company hopes to stake its claim as a major competitor in the battery market, after having invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the business.

Starting Small, But Permanent

This promotional image gives us the best look thus far at what a potential solid-state battery from Murata might look like. The image suggests that the cell itself will be combined with the necessary sensors and protection circuitry all in one single solderable package.

According to Murata’s own report from 2019, their new batteries will be aimed at the wearables and Internet of Things market. The batteries will be on the order of 2 to 25 mAh in capacity, based on graphics in the press release, with energy densities in the realm of 500 Wh/L. This puts the batteries in the realm slightly above the performance of current lithium-ion cells. It also far exceeds existing solid state designs, currently only really used in pacemakers and other very-low-power applications. The company aims to eventually deliver 100,000 parts a month, though will ramp up production slowly over the next 12 months or so.

Murata’s batteries will thus be small, compact, and not wildly powerful. However, their solid state nature brings one exciting benefit — they’ll be able to be soldered directly to PCBs in much the same way as any other component. Solid state batteries have many admirable benefits like these, in fact. By virtue of eliminating liquid electrolytes, the batteries are typically non-flammable and far hardier than traditional lithium-ion cells.

YouTuber [Great Scott] tested prototype solid-state cells from ProLogium. The cells could be punctured with a nail or cut with shears without catching fire or sustaining terminal damage.
Those hoping for solid-state cells to drop this year with huge current delivery numbers and stratospheric energy densities might be disappointed. However, if big time solid state batteries like that were even close to ready, we’d have more to go on than just a simple press release by this stage. However, it is an exciting development. Through the use of ceramic coating technologies developed through their capacitor business, combined with learnings from the battery business purchased from Sony, Murata have seemingly managed to develop a viable solid state battery that outperforms the very basic, low power designs available thus far, and by significant margin.

Everyone Wants a Piece of This Emerging Sector

As we’ve reported, BMW are betting big on the technology, even as competitors like Fisker have fallen by the wayside. Toyota also intend to throw their hat in the ring, with just about every other automaker involved in one way or another. The reason is simple: if solid state batteries can live up to their promises, electric cars could see a huge performance boost almost overnight. Batteries with higher energy density would provide for much longer range between recharges, while the lack of flammable liquid electrolyte would lessen overheating risks and potentially allow faster charge times. These two fixes would leave the electric vehicle world to then solely contend with the infrastructure issue, which is already well on the way to being solved in some locations. It’s compelling stuff.

For all that to happen, though, will require plenty of research and development. That’s well underway, of course, with Electronic Design reporting on multiple cutting-edge projects in the solid-state battery space late last year. The inherent difficulty most projects face is in the separator material. Placed between the anode and cathode, the separator must allow for lithium ions to pass freely from one side of the battery to another, while resisting the formation of lithium dendrites that could short circuit the battery. There’s a wide variety of approaches and chemistries at play, with it being anyone’s guess as to which, if any, will come out on top.

There’s some fundamental science to be done yet, and with hundreds of millions of dollars pouring in to research labs around the world, there’s plenty going on. YouTuber [Just Have a Think] has been following along with these developments, and covers the Murata development along with the state of play in the automotive scene, if you want to dig a bit deeper into the developments.

We can’t wait until these devices are shipping en masse, particularly as densities and current capacity increase. The advent of a lighter, more powerful, and crucially, more robust battery should herald a new wave of projects and technologies in much the same way that lithium-ion batteries did 30 years ago.

[Main image via Murata online exhibition about solid state batteries]

43 thoughts on “Murata To Deliver Solid State Batteries To Market In The Fall

  1. Ok, so they’re safer than regular Lithium cells, but what about lifetimes? A regular Li cell only take a few hundred charegs before serioulsy losing capacity and becoming useless. How many charge-discharge cycles are these solid state batteries good for? Thanks

    1. I’m more concerned about the ecological footprint of the mining and manufacturing processes. Because, uh, making lithium batteries is *not* good for the environment, much like the manufacture of solar panels (which also have limited useful lifetimes) and the mining and processing of rare-earth minerals.

      1. Its a valid concern, but you have to balance the benefits to the cost – and if you can feasibly get people to accept whatever changes are required – going “oh no basically all human activity is bad for the environment” leads to “so we have to kill each other off rapidly, and as cleanly as possible – hit each other with lumps of rock! (that we didn’t have to mine first)” Obviously not going to happen…

        Also while old solar cells did degrade pretty swiftly modern ones really don’t degrade much at all, you can expect decades of basically peak performance, and even the oldest solar cell you can find probably works if it avoided physical harm – the power output drops but the actual ‘functional’ lifetime is not really definable – at what power level is it ‘broken’…

        I’d also argue solar panels are vastly better in production than most every other power generation, all the fossil fuels have vast infrastructure to extract, refine and then ship fuel around, that has to be built on top of the plant itself, nuclear is better but has dealing with the ‘spent’ fuel, which currently generally just means dumping it in a hole, lined with lots and lots of concrete, as for renewable – wind has arguments in its favour (but all those ‘used’ blades that can’t be recycled and being composite are not going anywhere fast, and they do eat up rather alot of air and ground space – as you can’t easily fit them in the cities to the existing structures…), as do some tidal models (put a ‘boat’ in the water fixed to the ground and let the water flow past – minimal impact – few anchor points and a small reduction in the tidal flow rate), but hydro and tidal dams consume copious amounts of concrete and are flooding vast areas – you can call that ‘not good’ if you like (though for me again its a balance – lakes and salt marshes are not inherently bad for the environment its more a forced changed of use than the destruction some greenies would call it).

        Not to mention solar cells are mostly just sand, environmentally no big deal, the chemicals used in production are pretty nasty, but that isn’t harming the environment if you don’t dump them badly, and the rather high energy cost of production doesn’t have to be met by dirty sources…

        From what we know of solid state batteries so far there is no reason to think they are any worse that other battery techs, might even be better on the ecological footprint. So lets not fuss too much at this very early phase of the tech about its footprint – we just can’t know the full story till the lifespan, recycling costs, optimal materials etc starts to become known, and making a massive fuss over something new that causes some harm means generally overlooking that the old you are forcibly keeping alive through that fuss is actually worse.

        And then you have to consider what the ecological cost actually is – 10 years of mine operations followed by years of rewilding and restoration when the mine runs dry – what does that count as? The end result can often be more ecologically diverse than what was there before – as when you are restoring and rewilding you make conscious choices to increase the areas of whichever habitat is rarer than it ‘should’ be in the area. Some places here were such industrial sites and are now sanctuary for some of the rarer species – think a few have even be given such protected status for it. Humans have been managing the landscape for eons… nothing is truly wild.

        1. I have to agree. One consideration is that this is part of the development process. We can’t get “there” if we don’t make the journey. There are going to be some important learnings along the way. If you never begin the journey, you’ll never finish it.

        2. What a stunning piece of writing. For a change on this site, it’s based on facts and analysis rather than “I reckon” and prejudicial assumptions. Thank you so much …… and also for the good grammar and spelling which makes it easily readable. Write more !!

        3. Thank you all, perhaps the most shocked I’ve been seeing replies to my comments – who gets such positive responses in such quantity?!
          I’m definitely guilty of sometimes going “I reckon”, without enough analysis – who isn’t… But I do always try to keep my reasoning for that guesstimate in the mix when commenting… I’m glad you found it that readable, that 3rd paragraph/sentence really felt like it was getting away from me a bit..

      2. Then you should rejoice because solid state batteries will be MUCH easier to recycle due to no longer being a potential fireball. The ecological footprint of mining will only shrink with time as more machines are made electric. Your typical solar panel is easily recycled, so no real problems there. Can it be cleaner, yes… but good is the enemy of perfect. We need to replace an extraordinary amount of machinery which all pollute far more than the extraction and manufacturing process of their electric counterparts.

        1. How does being solid state make a battery more recyclable? Solids can combust on contact with oxygen too you know. So it’s not necessarily a reduced fire hazard without more details. Meanwhile the current king of recyclable battery chemistries is lead acid, which does not use a solid electrolyte.

          1. > can be punctured with a nail and not self-ignite

            The electrolyte doesn’t ignite because it’s solid, but you can still short out the battery and heat it up until everything else burns. Might not matter for a tiny battery because the heat dissipates quickly, but if you got something like 50 kWh of charge in an EV, that’s still going to be extremely dangerous.

      1. You must be a retired engineer. That link is the 4th in the article, and the context around the link gives no hint that it will contain the details in question. I would agree with you if the information was in the HAD article itself, but I don’t fault people for not going on a wild goose chase down a rabbit hold of links looking for basic informaiton.

        My money’s on you being a Linux user as well, and criticizing people for not just learning how to program kernels and add writing their own hardware drivers.

        /roll eyes

      2. @Sammy said: “The amount of cycles is answered in the electronicdesign link. Do people read the articles and references anymore?”

        Cycle lifetime is the huge elephant in the room regarding this SSB technology, and I’m not seeing it being addressed. The ElectronicDesign article you mention says nothing about cycle lifespan at all. Either that or I missed it – and I read the article twice.

    2. I assume chemistry in a solid phase is going to be more sedate than what can happen in an electrolyte. If that’s true, I would expect that generally the solid state would last longer. Also a factor is just the sort of industry niche that a solid state cell fills today, and that’s small cells with very long life times. Often embedded in a field replaceable unit with a well defined operational life time.

  2. Recycling is key. Somehow the manufacturers have to be involved in the recycling process (and its costs!) to be in the feedback loop: they absolutely have to design the whole life cycle.

  3. I’m more interested in the max discharge rate of the modules to achieve that capacity. I would love a tiny 25mAh integrated module with BMS etc but not if the discharge rate is something like 200uA or something

  4. I’m excited for this. 25mAh isn’t a lot, but there could easily be multiple on a board. I’m definitely getting some when they release. It would be perfect for a low power smart watch.

    1. Had you done that last week at 19 it might have made sense. But they’ve just hit a local peak at almost 22.

      Then seeing that the press release came out in May and MRAAY dropped from a relatively stable 20 to 18? Not sure that is the deal people think it is.

      1. I previously worked at a company in which Murata invested. The year that Intel went to CES with choreographed drone swarms, Murata brought 6 very poorly self balancing robot cheerleaders that did a veerrrry slow choreographed dance and kept falling over. It was quite unimpressive.

        They previously had these sort of hybrid supercap/battery things. The largest one was rated at 100 F and was maybe the diameter of a pencil and 1.5 cm long, if I remember right. We were making a wearable so it seemed like this might work for us. However, they discontinued them within 9 months of releasing them.

        They also requested that we switch all the caps in our BOM to Murata part numbers, so we did. Then they were out of stock on all. of. them. So we had to get caps from their sample center to make our builds. They never exactly struck me as being a terribly competent company.

        Eventually, the company management and Murata had a falling out and Murata didn’t invest in any subsequent rounds.

        1. That sounds like my experience with basically every Japanese company I’ve come into contact with. They might have some great ideas and tech, but they always bumble away their advantage. They seem to be best at making good models of already established products.

          My friend works at a ceramics and LED manufacturer and he sometimes gives me the discarded prototypes and samples. They have amazing stuff that you can’t ever seem to actually buy. What’s going on?

  5. “Those hoping for solid-state cells to drop this year with huge current delivery numbers and stratospheric energy densities”

    Huh, I’m far less interested in enormous current-delivery capabilities and much more interested in safety and capacity.

  6. If these could power remotes, watches, smaller type electronics for now, I would consider it a win. I’m in favor of big changes, small steps, sort of like going from incandescent to led, though not direct, imo it worked out for the good.

  7. what can you do with a battery with 25 mAh? ie about a 10th of a 2032? What are the other applications apart from a pacemakers ?
    I get that it’s a great tech for the future, not so sure what it is useful for now – so genuine question!

    1. Put few into a circuit that only powers up intermittently to do a task then goes back to sleep. Should last a while, and if you add in a solar panel, they’ll stay topped up. They shouldn’t blow up in heat like lithium cells do, nor should they combust from over discharging (assuming my understanding of the tech is accurate).

  8. They want to put them in chip packages, to keep memory alive or something. Chip dies and product with it because of a dead battery inside and no way to replace it. No thanks.

    Sounds like a good way to make “secure” gadgets. The battery may be to fry the chip if somebody tries to dump the software.

  9. So…. I responded here on HAD or somewhere else…. They are planning to make enough of these, that if you gather ALL of their output for about 2.5 years, you can power an electric car!

    This has nothing to do with safer batteries for cars.

  10. 100,000 a month seems like very low volume, for some limited applications. That 6 million in 5 years. In first five years of ipod production, Apple sold 100 million.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.