Traditional gas-powered vehicles are currently reselling electric vehicles at almost 50 to one. The main reason for this gap is the high cost of lithium-ion batteries. under the hood. But a new manufacturing approach developed by researchers at MIT and startup 24M could significantly reduce the cost of batteries. while improving their performance and making them more recyclable.
Lithium-ion batteries are the most widely used type of battery. They are found in consumer electronics that you will like smartphones and tablets, as well as many electric vehicles. (among other applications), so any cost reduction, especially one this large, could cause major unrest across a range of industries.
Best Manufacturing Process
The current manufacturing process for lithium-ion batteries has remained relatively unchanged since their inception two decades ago. “We have reinvented this process,” said Yet-Min Chiang, Kyocera ceramics professor at MIT and co-founder of 24M.
Unlike traditional lithium ion batteries, which are made with solid electrodes, 24M batteries use a «semi-solid» electrode. This is a hybrid of so-called «flow batteries» (where the electrodes are suspensions of tiny particles carried by a liquid and pumped throughout the battery), and conventional solid ones.
Chan says they have managed to get rid of more than 80 percent of the non-energy materials stored in the battery. increasing the size of the electrode by more than five times compared to a conventional lithium-ion battery.
The company claims this new design simplifies the manufacturing process, allowing them to produce batteries at half the cost and one-fifth the time of traditional batteries.
Not only does the new system streamline the manufacturing process, Chang says it also produces a battery that is more flexible and resilient. While traditional lithium-ion batteries contain fragile electrodes that tend to crack under pressure, the new 24M system produces battery cells that can be bent or folded without fail. The company even claims that its battery cells can withstand bullet penetration.
This will improve the safety and durability of lithium-ion batteries, Chang said. This can make a big difference in electric vehicles, where fire is a problem. It is for this reason that Tesla stores its batteries inside an armored case. Eliminating the need for this shell can reduce weight and simplify maintenance.
The future of battery manufacturing?
24M made an initial run of 10,000 battery samples to send to potential partners and customers for testing. The company is currently focusing on grid-scale installations that are used to provide renewable energy backup. sources that produce intermittent outputs such as wind and solar power. Its early partners include an oil company in Thailand and Japanese heavy equipment manufacturer IHI Corp.
Electric vehicles are also on Chang’s radar. In fact, he has long been interested in transportation applications: he has allocated 24 million from his previous company A123 Systems, which made lithium-ion batteries specifically for electric vehicles.
Chang estimates that by 2020, 24M will be able to produce lithium-ion batteries for less than $100 per kilowatt-hour of power. Venkat Viswanathan, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, says the new 24M battery design «could do the same kind of disruption to manufacturing [литий-ионных] batteries, like what mini-mills have done with built-in steel mills.”
The implications of a cheaper and more efficient battery manufacturing process are clear. Production-level savings can be passed on to the consumer, making products more affordable and giving more incentive to choose electric vehicles over their gas-powered counterparts.