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Samsung ramping up solid-state battery development

Published May 6, 2022
A safer, more powerful battery is 'the light at the end of the tunnel' for the e-bike market.

SEOUL (BRAIN) — Samsung SDI is accelerating solid-state battery development and said it will produce them early next year. The company said the technology will be a safer and more powerful alternative to the lithium-ion battery that's at the forefront of the e-bike and micromobility industry.

One e-bike industry consultant told BRAIN on Friday that Samsung SDI's announcement is the most significant development in the e-bike industry in the last 10 years, "the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel." However, Mike Fritz of Human Powered Solutions said hindering widespread adoption in the e-bike industry will be costly and the e-bike industry will have to compete with the auto industry's demand for solid-state batteries.

"My prediction as one who watched these developments from afar is that we won't see solid-state lithium ion e-bike battery packs in widespread use for the next three to five years," Fritz said.

UPI News Korea reported Thursday that Samsung SDI initially planned to have solid-state batteries on the market in five years. In March, Samsung SDI announced it launched a pilot line for manufacturing solid-state batteries at the R&D Center near Seoul.

"Through checking our technological viability and securing know-how for mass production, we will speed up the timing for mass production," Samsung SDI said.

In a solid-state battery, the electrolyte — a primary material — is made from a solid, not liquid like in a lithium-ion battery.

"Solid electrolyte replaces the liquid electrolyte in the cell, eliminating the fuel that burns so hot and is so difficult to extinguish in that failure mode," Fritz said.

Solid-state construction is more powerful and energy dense and can be recharged faster, according to Fritz.

"Higher power density translates to greater available torque for improved acceleration, hill climbing, and payload," Fritz said. "Higher energy density translates to greater range. The benefits of faster charging are obvious."

More miles per charge would be a boon to electric vehicle and e-bike applications.

"The mileage of EVs is still not so far," Daelim University automotive professor Kim Pil-soo told UPI News Korea. "For EVs to become mainstream in the car industry, they need to have a similar mileage as cars with internal combustion engines. As solid-state batteries have higher energy density than lithium-ion batteries, they can substantially increase the EV mileage."

That technology has been difficult to develop, however.

"It remains to be seen whether Samsung SDI will be able to make a breakthrough, but the pilot project is meaningful," Pil-soo said.

Lithium-ion batteries used for e-bikes, e-scooters, and e-motorcycles have been in the news for the fires they have stated, especially in New York City, where delivery services and commuters rely on micromobilty. A South Florida bike shop fire last month was caused by an e-bike battery charging. Fritz said solid-state lithium-ion battery technology has the benefit of being resistant to thermal runaway and subsequent fire.

"I believe cost is still an open question," Fritz said. "There are major manufacturing challenges associated with producing solid-state batteries. It's logical to assume that, until such time as these manufacturing challenges are overcome, yes, there will be a significant cost premium. But as with any new technology, the battery industry will ultimately develop solutions to overcome those challenges, accelerating commercialization and proliferation of these new cells.

"In the interim, we must continue our collective efforts to raise awareness of the hazards associated with the current pack chemistry, as well as to encourage adoption of appropriate use and care practices and failure mitigation strategies, to all concerned parties within our industry and our consumer base."

Samsung SDI R&D Center.
Topics associated with this article: BRAIN Source Book, Electric bike

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