In addition to the technical advantages they bring to electric vehicles, solid electrolyte lithium batteries could reduce the carbon footprint that this component adds to them due to the emissions caused by its manufacture. The reduction could reach up to 39% in comparison with those that come from a battery with liquid electrolyte of those currently used especially, if sustainably sourced materials are used. This is the fundamental conclusion drawn from the statement made public by the organization Transport & Environment (T&E).
The figure obtained by T&E is based on the comparison between a of the most promising solid-state batteries of those currently being developed and a battery with lithium-ion technology that is manufactured with sustainable lithium sources. According to T&E, the new lithium extraction methods, as is the case with geothermal wellsemit much less COtwo than other more widely used extraction systems, such as hard rock lithium that is mined in Australia and refined in China.
Consequently, the European climate group has called for incentives to be included to reduce the carbon footprint in the new regulations for electric vehicle batteries that are being finalized in the European Parliament and also by the member states of the European Union.
“Electric vehicles are already much better for the planet,” says Cecilia Mattea, director of clean vehicles at T&E, in the statement. “But solid-state technology is a game changer because its higher energy density means that far fewer materials, and thus far fewer emissions, are needed to make it.”
Regarding lithium batteries that use a liquid electrolyte to transport the ions that travel between their cathodes, those that use a solid ceramic material can store more energy per volume unit, allow higher recharge rates and offer higher levels of security, since the possibility of fire is eliminated. In addition, solid batteries require lower amounts of cobalt, a metal that is mainly mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where there is no political stability and unsafe labor practices, including child labor, are common.
Studies and research that seek to find those materials that can best meet the specifications required for a solid electrolyte and for battery performance are numerous around the world. In addition, car manufacturers are also working with their suppliers to develop these batteries, which should begin to be implemented in electric vehicles in the second half of this decade.