A solid-state electrolyte for batteries made of rubber?

electric car lithium battery, xiaoliangge, stock.adobe.com

Yes, you read correctly! You just have to have the right ideas.

A common problem with lithium batteries is their lack of sustainability and safety.
In the event of mechanical or thermal damage to Li batteries, electrolyte gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen or even methane can escape. Another problem is the dreaded dendrite formation of lithium, which can lead to an internal short circuit and thus to a thermal runaway.

This is why major battery manufacturers such as CATL and SK Innovation are researching alternative solid-state batteries in order to optimize such problems as a lack of sustainability and safety. Inorganic ceramic materials or organic polymers are usually used here. However, these are often difficult to produce, expensive and not entirely harmless.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, together with colleagues in Korea, have developed a material that could really help here: Rubber!

Elastomers, or synthetic rubbers, have excellent mechanical properties. When the material is formulated into a 3D structure, it can serve as a super highway for the rapid transportation of Li-ions, which can lead to longer-lasting, longer-range rechargeable batteries.

Thus, an organic rubber-based polymer was synthesized that does not have the usual disadvantages such as slow Li-ion transport, poor mechanical properties or electrochemical instability. The material forms a three-dimensional, interconnected plastic crystal phase within the robust rubber matrix.

This rubber electrolyte is produced using a simple polymerization process at low temperatures. This creates robust and smooth interfaces on the surface of the electrodes. These completely prevent the growth of Li-dendrites, the lithium ions can move faster, thus increasing the specific energy and energy density and thereby increasing the mileage. Research is now being carried out to increase the mileage.

These all-solid-state batteries will certainly change the electromobility market. This can also be seen from the fact that a company like SK Innovation is now planning to build a next-generation battery plant in Georgia. This means that nothing stands in the way of the rapid commercialization of these batteries.

Another step in what could be the right direction – we at SVP are staying on the ball!

Dr. Ronald Hinz, Market Intelligence Senior Expert