2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid, Hudson Valley, NY, Apr 2018
Honda believes it has discovered a breakthrough in solid-state batteries that could lead to higher-density units compared to today’s lithium-ion batteries. The new battery is also much more stable, a boon over today’s lithium-ion batteries which pose a risk of overheating due to their property nature.
Scientists at the Honda Research Institute in partnership with researchers from California Institute of Technology and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab discovered a new means to operate fluoride-based batteries at room temperatures. In an announcement last week, the researchers and scientists said they created a fluoride-ion electrochemical cell, which for the first time doesn’t require incredibly hot temperatures to operate.
Previous technology has meant solid-state batteries with a fluoride basis must operate at extremely high temperatures; we’re talking above 302 degrees Fahrenheit. Only at these high temperatures will the electrolytes become fluoride-conducting. Obviously, automakers can’t operate batteries at those temperatures.
Honda fluoride-based solid-state battery
The major breakthrough is a process scientists discovered to make the fluoride basis conductive at room temperature.
A chemically stable fluoride-conducting electrolyte with incredibly high conductive properties paired with a composite cathode created reverse electrochemical cycling at room temperature.
With the battery’s makeup, the unit was able to provide power and retain its solid-state benefits at low temperatures ideal for an automobile and other battery-powered products.
Solid-state batteries are often referred to as the holy grail of battery technology. Their energy density is some 10 times greater than today’s most powerful lithium-ion batteries. With solid-state batteries, incredibly long ranges would be possible. Add in budding fast-charge technology, and suddenly range anxiety is a thing of the past.
Yet, there are still many hurdles. No mass-production process exists to produce fluoride batteries and the technology may not be ready until the mid-2020s. But multiple companies and automakers think they will be first to install a solid-state battery in an electric car. The first is likely to be Toyota which aims to commercialize solid-state batteries early next decade.