Most of today's electric vehicles (EVs) are powered by lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries—the same kind of batteries used in cell phones and laptop computers. Currently, most Li-Ion batteries used in EVs provide a driving range limited to 100 miles on a single charge and account for more than half of the total cost of the vehicle. To compete in the market with gasoline-based vehicles, EVs must cost less and drive farther. An EV that is cost-competitive with gasoline would require a battery with twice the energy storage of today's state-of-the-art Li-Ion battery at 30% of the cost.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
Planar Energy Devices is developing a new production process where lithium-ion batteries would be printed as a thin film onto sheets of metal or plastic. Thin-film printing methods could revolutionize battery manufacturing, allowing for smaller, lighter, and cheaper EV batteries. Typically, a battery’s electrolyte—the material that actually stores energy within the cell—is a liquid or semi-liquid; this makes them unsuitable for use in thin-film printing. Planar is working with a ceramic-based gel electrolyte that is better suited for printing. The electrolyte would be printed onto large reels of metal or plastic along with other battery components. Once printed, these reels can be cut up into individual cells and wired together to make battery packs. By reducing packaging materials with this unique production process, Planar’s efficient Li-Ion battery design would allow more space for storing energy—at a far lower cost—than today’s best Li-Ion battery designs.
If successful, Planar’s thin-film printed Li-Ion batteries would improve the driving range of EVs and reduce their sticker price, enabling a shift in transportation energy from foreign oil to domestically powered electricity.
Increased use of EVs would decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil—the transportation sector is the dominant source of this dependence.
Greater use of EVs would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 28% of which come from the transportation sector.
This battery would enable an EV to travel from Chicago to St. Louis (300 miles) on a single charge, for less than $10 on average.