New battery production method could yield safer and cheaper electric cars

Conventional lithium-ion EV batteries use liquid electrolytes that require sophisticated and expensive cooling systems to prevent the technology from overheating and getting damaged.

In an effort to provide a better alternative, scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new EV battery production method that could make for safer, lighter, and more energy-dense car batteries.

The new technique, called melt-infiltration, investigates the production of solid-state batteries for cars and uses electrolyte materials that can be infiltrated into porous, but densely packed, thermally stable electrodes.

“While the melting point of traditional solid-state electrolytes can range from 700 degrees Celsius to over 1,000 degrees Celsius, we operate at a much lower temperature range, depending on the electrolyte composition, roughly from 200 to 300 degrees Celsius,” explains Gleb Yushin, an engineering professor at the university. “At these lower temperatures, fabrication is much faster and easier. Materials at low temperatures don’t react.”

What’s particularly great about the new technique is that it can use already existing processes and tools optimized for Li-ion battery production. This means that the new patented technology mimics the low-cost fabrication of commercial Li-ion cells with liquid electrolytes, but instead uses solid-state electrolytes with low-melting points.

As a result, the breakthrough could accelerate the uptake of solid-state batteries — currently not used in cars — and enable EV manufacturers to spend less on cooling systems as well as save on materials, dimensions, and weight.

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