Advancing Sustainable Energy: The Significance of Solid-State Batteries in the Energy Transition
Written by Dillip Kumar Mishra and Jiangfeng Zhang
The global pursuit of sustainable energy transition has experienced a paradigm shift towards advanced energy storage technologies, emerging with solid-state batteries (SSBs). This shift could be a leading force in the energy transition. SSBs differ from conventional Li-ion batteries, as they replace the liquid electrolyte with the solid electrolyte, providing significant sustainability benefits. In the movement towards a greener, more efficient energy future, SSBs are critically important in many ways. SSBs are distinguished by their safety and reliability, as they alleviate the risks associated with the thermal runaway in conventional batteries, particularly in electric vehicles.
More importantly, SSBs degrade significantly slower than traditional batteries, retaining up to 90% of their capacity after 10,000 cycles. Furthermore, SSBs have positive environmental effects and sustainable implementations; they reduce dependency on rare minerals, and they also greatly contribute to energy transition and NetZero targets. Increasing the incorporation of these advanced energy storage technologies shows promise for a reliable and resilient energy framework, fostering a future driven by a clean, efficient, and sustainable energy paradigm. This article explores the potential applications and the importance of the degradation of SSBs.
The need for a sustainable energy system transition has never been more urgent. Climate change, dependency on fossil fuels, and the resulting adverse effects on the environment have triggered global initiatives to switch to greener and more effective methods of energy production . The advancement and integration of cutting-edge energy storage technologies are vital to this paradigm shift. The advent of SSBs has brought a new ray of hope to the energy sector. SSBs could significantly contribute to the NetZero target, as this target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, according to US government commitment . SSBs stand out amongst other possible solutions, as they have the potential to overcome challenges encountered in traditional battery technologies.
Figure 1: Schematic diagram
Potential Applications of Solid-State Batteries
SSBs are regarded as promising potential solutions in technology in energy storage industries. Many research and development attempts have been made to unlock the potential of SSBs in various applications (see Figure 2). As the world continues to move to sustainable energy solutions, the energy and transport sectors could contribute significantly to NetZero targets. There will be a breakthrough in the EV industry if the SSB can replace the Li-ion battery, as it has numerous advantages and is environmentally friendly .
For the last few years, extreme weather events have increased, causing significant damage to the power grid and incurring billions of dollars of loss yearly. On top of the advanced storage technology that could substantially help cope with these extreme weather events quickly, the SSB also has higher energy density, fast charging time, and the ability to operate in diverse temperatures . With these technologies, the power system can become more resilient, saving human lives and the economy.
Further, consumer electronics manufacturers are seeking portable devices that satisfy their customers' preferences. SSBs can help reduce the size of devices, as they have higher energy density and better safety features. In aerospace design, having a lightweight, higher energy density, and thermally stable design are critically important. SSBs could become the choice of aerospace, as they possess all of these characteristics which allow for the design of an efficient and reliable aircraft. In addition, SSBs can be a superior technology to power combat vehicles, sensors, and other electronic devices, as their durability allows them to endure high-disruptive events, such as in military and defense scenarios.
Figure 2: Solid-state battery outlook
Solid-State Battery Degradation and Mitigation Challenges
SSBs use solid electrolytes instead of liquids, as used in Li-ion batteries. SSBs have many advantages over Li-ion batteries, such as higher energy density, enhanced safety, and longer-lasting battery life . However, SSBs are still susceptible to various degradation mechanisms. Some key factors in SSB degradation are discussed below (also seen in Figure 3).
Figure 3: Degradation formation
Figure 4: SSB degradation mitigation techniques
- Interface instability can occur in both the electrode and electrolyte due to chemical reactions and dendrite formation. Subject to the chemical reaction between electrolyte and electrode, it can create unwanted compounds that reduce the battery’s efficiency, while dendrite formation can cause a short circuit, leading to capacity loss of the battery.
- Solid electrolytes degrade due to two phenomena: crystallinity change and chemical decomposition. The crystallinity structure change greatly impacts the ionic conductivity and overall performance. On the other hand, electrolyte material can be degraded due to exposure to environmental instances.
- The degradation of electrode material can also affect the battery life, which can happen with volume changes and side reactions. Due to the mechanical stress and in the charging/discharging time, the material will expand and contract, leading to degradation.
- Temperature is a critical factor in batteries, largely affecting the degradation, leading to capacity loss and explosion.
- Moisture ingression and exposure to oxygen can deteriorate the electrode/electrolyte material, which impacts the overall performance.
- The stress from frequent battery charging/discharging can deteriorate the SSB component, affecting the overall performance and lifespan.
Figure 5: Battery degradation on account of temperature change
Mitigating SSB degradation is important in order to enhance the overall performance of SSBs [6, 7]. This involves various factors, such as materials selection, engineering advancement, optimal operation control, charging/discharging methods, and maintenance, as portrayed in Figure. 4. The battery management system integrates various operational strategies to mitigate battery degradation.
As previously noted, temperature plays an essential role in influencing different degradation mechanisms. The key causes for battery degradation on account of temperature change are as follows: [Figure 5]
In conclusion, the widespread incorporation of SSBs can be a revolutionary step in the context of sustainable energy and energy transition. As the ubiquity of renewable energies increases, advanced energy storage technologies such as SSBs are vital to managing intermittent energy sources. The electric transportation sector could also contribute significantly to NetZero targets through the use of SSBs as we move towards greener energy sources. SSBs have the potential to be a breakthrough technology that leads to improved safety features, longer battery life, lower environmental impact, and more extensive mileage. Beyond EVs and the power grid, there could be other potential areas of application where SSBs could have a transformative impact that reaches environmental milestones.
Considering the SSB for future applications will be of great importance. However, battery degradation remains a key factor that must be considered. Factors such as material selection, operation and control strategy, and charging/discharging patterns play vital roles in battery degradation. Moving forward, implementing effective SSB management can greatly enhance overall performance.
Research and development investment will accelerate the commercialization and wide adoption of SSBs. This battery technology has the power to reshape the energy landscape by providing a stable, reliable, resilient, and sustainable energy solution.
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