The race to produce safe, powerful and affordable solid-state lithium batteries is accelerating and recent announcements about game-changing research using a solid non-flammable ceramic electrolyte known as garnet has some in the race calling it revolutionary.
"This is a paradigm shift in energy storage," said Kelsey Hatzell, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. A paper – "The Effect of Pore Connectivity on Li Dendrite Propagation Within LLZO Electrolytes Observed with Synchrotron X-ray Tomography" – describing her novel research on the failure points of a garnet electrolyte was published online in March in the American Chemical Society's Energy Letters, which was among the most read ACS Letters articles that month.
Lithium-ion batteries typically contain a liquid organic electrolyte that can catch fire. The fire risk is eliminated by the use of a non-flammable garnet-based electrolyte. Replacing liquid electrolytes with a solid organic like garnet also potentially lowers the cost by increasing battery life.
"Solid-state batteries are desirable for all-electric vehicles and other applications where energy storage and safety are paramount," Hatzell said.
Hatzell's team tested Li7La3Zr2O12 – Lithium lanthanum Zirconium Oxide or LLZO – a garnet-type material that shows great promise for all-solid-state battery applications due to its high Li-ion conductivity and its compatibility with Li metal.
"Understanding the failure mechanisms within these electrolyte systems is critical for designing resilient solid electrolyte systems," said Hatzell. "The primary limitation of LLZO is the propensity for short-circuiting events at low current densities."
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