Today’s lithium-ion batteries are expensive and bulky – which is why Toyota is currently developing two new types of ultra-efficient batteries to power its electric vehicles. Toyota is conducting research on solid-state batteries and lithium-air batteries that promise to be more compact and be able to store more energy than lithium-ion batteries – and the automaker plans to switch to these new technologies by 2020.

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Two types of lithium-ion batteries are commonly used in electric vehicles: lithium-ion-phosphate batteries and lithium-polymer batteries. The problem with lithium-ion batteries is that more than half of their size is dedicated to materials that don’t even store energy, such as insulators and materials designed to protect and cool the energy-storing components.

Solid-state batteries – one of the battery types that Toyota is researching – provide a host of benefits. They use a solid electrolyte and solid electrodes, unlike most batteries, which use liquid electrolytes. A significant benefit of these batteries is that the lack of liquid enables them to be connected to each other without being placed in their own individual cases, which makes for more compact packaging. Solid-state batteries also have the potential to out-perform lithium-ion batteries, and they can be created using thin films.

Lithium-air batteries have the theoretical potential to store 50 times more energy than typical lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-air batteries use oxygen in the air as a cathode active material. According to Toyota, “they achieve weight savings and better energy density than solid batteries by changing negative-electrode material into metallic lithium from black lead.”

+ Toyota

Via Clean Technica

Photos from Toyota