Synthetic rubbers have been widely applied for many purposes, such as in tires, sealants, and wearable electronics. A study, from the Georgia Institute of Technology in collaboration with the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, has discovered a new use for the material in electric vehicles (EVs) that may revolutionize the market.
Why is this material needed in EV batteries?
A big safety concern with lithium-ion batteries used in EVs is their potential to be damaged, leak, and implode. Causing the industry to move towards more expensive and non environmentally friendly alternatives, termed solid-state batteries. As these vehicles become more mainstream and in demand, this problem needs to be overcome.
The solution: 3D printed rubber electrolytes
That’s where this study, published in Nature, comes in! Using 3D printed rubber electrolytes, these solid-state batteries can be leveled up. The team was able to create a robust matrix with higher conductivity, stability, and mechanical properties than any material invented before. This alternative is also better for the planet, with it being lower cost and non-toxic.
“Rubber has been used everywhere because of its high mechanical properties, and it will allow us to make cheap, more reliable, and safer batteries,” said Seung Woo Lee, a member of the research team.
“Higher ionic conductivity means you can move more ions at the same time,” said Michael Lee, a mechanical engineering graduate researcher. “By increasing the specific energy and energy density of these batteries, you can increase the mileage of the EV.”
This new idea has already been planned to be put into commercial action by 2023. Kyounghwan Choi, director of SK Innovation‘s next-generation battery research center believes: “that commercializing all-solid-state batteries will become a game changer in the electric vehicle market.”
Source study: Nature – Elastomeric electrolytes for high-energy solid-state lithium batteries