We're all familiar with both the rise of electric vehicles, and the lingering concerns some have regarding their adoption - namely, driving range, time to recharge, and battery lifetime limits. It's long been assumed that solid state batteries could be the key to solving all of these issues at once, while simultaneously enhancing safety but until recently it looked like it would be quite some time before the technology got to a point where it was scalable and practical. We may have reached that point sooner than expected, however.
So what even are solid state batteries? . Right now, most EV currently use the familiar lithium ion battery, which uses a liquid or gel electrolyte solution between positive and negative electrodes to both store and release charge. Solid state batteries instead use a solid material for electrons to pass through (ceramic, glass, etc). The lack of liquid/gel allows for holding a larger amount energy per unit of mass, which means solid state batteries have the potential to increase range. Because of the decreased overall mass (they're roughly half the size of a lithium ion battery) auto manufacturers can allot nearly twice as many batteries to the reserved battery holding areas within the standard EV setup. Additionally, the lack of liquid means more temperature stability for the battery, and removes much of the need for added cooling mechanisms currently in place to avoid the risk of fire & overheating that is present in standard batteries.
In terms of battery lifetime and the cost to update or replace EV batteries, some manufacturers are estimating that the prototype models they are currently running will be able to stand up to 1000 charges, and with double the battery capacity, the math works out to newer solid state running EVs potentially running a little over half a million miles prior to needing battery replacement.
The other main highlight is that an additional long standing issue with the move to EV and general electrification has been the impracticality of lithium ion powered heavy freight, long haul trucking, aircraft, or grid level energy storage. By changing the battery variable, that equation may become solvable in time.
We did an article for Oil & Energy magazine this issue to discuss Solid State Batteries' potential in the EV market, and specifically what Solid Power, one of the industry tech leaders, is doing. You can read that article in its entirety here: Solid State Batteries are Game Changers
For more by way of background on EV batteries and whats going on with that technology - the video below does an excellent job explaining how Lithium, Hydrogen, and Solid State batteries work, and what the benefits and limitations are of each: