The company SES has introduced a new generation of electric batteries that promises to double the energy density of current lithium-ion batteries. According to the company’s founder, these lithium-metal batteries could be commercially available within two to three years.
The SES company recently introduced a new electric battery that was billed as “revolutionary.” This lithium-metal battery promises to double the energy density of currently marketed lithium-ion batteries. By removing the graphite from the anode, SES has saved weight and space on its batteries.
A new generation of lithium-metal batteries?
Solid-state batteries have always been touted as the Holy Grail of electric vehicles. They promise to increase the range and reduce the charging time of electric vehicles. A way to convince even more consumers to switch to electric vehicles. The company SES is developing solid state batteries.
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Last week, the company presented a prototype of a lithium-metal battery. To put it simply, SES eliminated the graphite from the anode, which is the part of the battery that accepts lithium ions during charging. Instead, the new battery has a pure lithium metal anode. This saves space.
To accomplish this, SES had to find a way to handle pure lithium, a highly reactive metal. When used as an anode, pure lithium often leads to the premature death of batteries. To make lithium metal anodes safe and durable, the company found a way to channel the formation of dendrites. If they get too large, the dendrites can fill the gap between the anode and cathode and set the electrolyte on fire. This was the risk feared by most manufacturers.
Several automakers are already on board
SES is currently working with General Motors, Hyundai, Geely and Foxconn. The company is building a factory in Shanghai that should be completed in 2023. According to Qichao Hu, the company’s CEO: “Actually, it’s mainly salt. This new liquid is very stable on lithium metal, very safe, non-flammable, non-volatile, non-organic”.
A certified testing organization even drove a nail into a battery without causing a fire, which you can’t do with lithium-ion batteries developed today. The company monitors its batteries using artificial intelligence models trained on data collected from the batteries, looking for defects or variations that could potentially lead to problems.
Electric batteries are at the heart of what automakers are thinking about. They are the ones that will allow them to differentiate themselves by offering greater autonomy to their electric vehicles. Last year, for example, PSA announced the creation of a gigafactory in France to produce electric batteries. Electric vehicles are beginning to be democratized (in 2020, Norway sold more electric vehicles than thermal vehicles), but there are still gaps, particularly in terms of batteries.