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Glassy Solid Electrolytes

Iowa State University (ISU)

Strong, High Li+ Ion Conductivity, Li-Impermeable Thin-Ribbon Glassy Solid Electrolytes

Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$1,631,957
Location: 
Ames, IA
Project Term: 
02/01/2017 to 09/30/2019
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 

Demand for Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries has increased significantly as products such as smartphones, laptops, electric vehicles, and grid storage batteries rise in popularity. However, Li-ion batteries have numerous safety and performance limitations due to their flammable electrolyte and the charge storage density of their active materials, which are not easily overcome by incremental progress. New types of high-performance separators and electrodes built with solid-state ion conductors could simultaneously improve the energy density and safety of lithium ion batteries by removing the most flammable battery components, and also improving the driving range and durability of electric vehicles. Solid-state separators also open the door to the use of lithium metal as an active material, resulting in a significant increase in cell energy content, and the subject of research efforts for the past several decades. New battery technology that employs energy dense, thermally stable, and long-lasting materials will also be of interest for grid storage, particularly in dense, urban environments where the space occupied by storage systems is more of a concern.

Project Innovation + Advantages: 

Iowa State University (ISU) will develop new lithium-ion-conducting glassy solid electrolytes to address the shortcomings of present-day lithium batteries. The electrolytes will have high ionic conductivities and excellent mechanical, thermal, chemical, and electrochemical properties. Because glasses lack grain boundaries, they will also be impermeable to lithium dendrites, branchlike metal fibers that can short-circuit battery cells. These glassy solid electrolytes can enhance the safety, performance, manufacturability, and cost of lithium batteries. In addition to the electrolyte development, the team will build a micro-sheet glass ribbon processing facility and optimize conditions to identify a composition that will enable low-cost fabrication. Roll-to-roll manufacturing of the long, ribbon micro-sheets could be used to mass-produce enormous volumes of lithium batteries at very low cost and in flexible, stacked-layer formats.

Potential Impact: 

If successful, developments made under the IONICS program will increase the energy storage content for vehicle batteries by about 30% compared to today's Li-ion batteries and significantly reduce battery storage system costs.

Security: 

IONICS program innovations could contribute to energy storage solutions for transportation and the grid, lessening U.S. dependence on imported oil and improving grid resilience.

Environment: 

A 10% increase in electric vehicle use would reduce US oil consumption by 3% and reduce total US CO2 emissions by 1%.

Economy: 

IONICS program innovations could further establish U.S. businesses as technical leaders in energy storage, encouraging greater use of readily available renewable resources and increasing the competitiveness of electric vehicles.

Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Scott Litzelman
Project Contact: 
Prof. Steve Martin
Release Date: 
9/13/2016