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First Semisolid Lithium Batteries to Debut This Year, in Drones

SolidEnergy Systems will start with drones and aims to have its lithium batteries in electric vehicles after 2021

4 min read
Photo: SolidEnergy Systems
Ready-Made: SolidEnergy says its new batteries can be manufactured with existing equipment.
Photo: SolidEnergy Systems

Lithium-ion batteries boast a powerful blend of energy capacity and long cycle life. But they have a dangerous tendency to burst into flames, leading to injuries, product recalls, and flight bans.

Researchers have touted solid-state lithium batteries as a safer alternative. These devices swap out flammable liquid electrolytes for an inert solid such as plastic or ceramic. But researchers have pursued solid-state battery technology for decades without coming up with any products.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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