EVs could travel 1000 km on one charge with silicon-gel electrolyte system

In an era where sustainability is steering the future of transportation, electric vehicle (EV) technology has seen significant breakthroughs. One major challenge, battery range, has been under the spotlight as the automotive industry strives for widespread EV adoption.

While current EVs offer around 700 km (435 miles) on a single charge, a team of researchers from South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) is on a mission to push the boundaries further. Led by Professor Soojin Park, PhD candidate Minjun Je, and Dr. Hye Bin Son, the team is focused on achieving a groundbreaking 1,000-kilometer (approximately 621 miles) battery range.

Silicon-gel electrolyte system

The key lies in enhancing the energy density of lithium-ion batteries using silicon-based materials. Silicon, known for its high storage capacity, has always been a promising candidate for EV batteries. However, challenges arise due to its tendency to expand and contract during charging and discharging.

POSTECH’s research takes a unique approach by incorporating gel polymer electrolytes to address these challenges. Unlike traditional liquid electrolytes, gel electrolytes offer improved stability in their solid or gel-state nature.

Utilizing an electron beam to create covalent linkages between micro-sized silicon particles and gel electrolytes, the team effectively dispersed internal stress caused by volume expansion, improving structural stability. The breakthrough resulted in stable battery performance, even with micro silicon particles a hundred times larger than those traditionally used.

The innovative silicon-gel electrolyte system not only demonstrated ion conductivity comparable to conventional batteries but also achieved a remarkable 40 percent increase in energy density. Professor Soojin Park expressed excitement, stating, “This brings us closer to a real high-energy-density lithium-ion battery system.”

Supported by the Independent Researcher Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea, the team’s work lays the groundwork for the next generation of electric vehicles, promising extended battery range and improved efficiency.

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