Enter the battery that could change the world. It addresses both the energy density problem and the danger of fire if the battery is damaged.
The NOVA documentary profiled the work of Professor Mike Zimmerman of Tufts University. Professor Zimmerman has developed a battery that replaces the liquid electrolyte in the battery with a flame-retardant plastic. This battery won’t catch on fire if it is cut, punctured or crushed. In fact, it can continue to produce power despite significant damage.
Lithium ions produced at the lithium electrode travel through the plastic as quickly as they do a liquid electrolyte. The plastic also physically prevents the electrodes from forming the dendrites that can short out the battery. Lithium metal can be used for the negative electrode, which could potentially double the battery’s energy density.
Professor Zimmerman’s work has been done mostly in stealth. The NOVA special was reportedly the first television interview he had done on his work. He has formed a company, Ionic Materials, and recently raised $65 million to commercialize this solid-state battery. (Jump to the 30:40 mark in the video to see the portion on Professor Zimmerman’s work).
The interview didn’t mention any shortcomings with the battery or any potential challenges in commercializing it. So, I reached out to Ionic Materials to ask a few of my own questions but had not heard back from the company prior to publication of this article.
But if the battery performs as advertised, it could significantly help advance the move to greener power production, and in the penetration of EVs.