Solid state batteries have existed for a while in small market niches, but they haven't been used for more mainstream products because they've been too expensive to produce. A Michigan-based startup called Sakti3, which has been researching batteries for eight years, promises to double the battery capacity of lithium-ion batteries by using solid electrodes as well as solid electrolytes.
Dyson, a vacuum company from UK, has already invested $15 million in the startup. It will help Sakti3 commercialize the new batteries and also use them in its future products, such as robot-vacuum cleaners.
“Sakti3 has achieved leaps in performance, which current battery technology simply can't," said company founder James Dyson. “It's these fundamental technologies – batteries, motors – that allow machines to work properly."
On top of doubling the capacity, the new solid state batteries may also be safer and can have a longer lifecycle. The biggest promise, though, is that this new type of battery can also be cheaper to manufacture, which represents a big breakthrough for solid state batteries. If Sakti3 and Dyson deliver on all of the promises of solid state batteries, the technology might make the regular lithium-ion batteries obsolete, unless there is some unknown weakness in this technology that will make solid state batteries impractical.
Right now, solid state batteries seem to meet all the right criteria: cheaper to make, safer, longer lasting and higher capacity. They can also be made significantly smaller and thinner if the capacity is maintained rather than increased. This could be a major advantage for even slimmer phones or tablets in the future.
The new solid state batteries could also power the next electric car revolution. Right now, a big part of an electric car's cost is represented by the high-capacity battery. Electric cars could either become cheaper by keeping a reasonably long range for driving around town, or more expensive cars could completely remove range anxiety with a 500- or 600-mile range on a single charge. Using solid state batteries that are much less likely to explode is another major benefit for electric cars. GM, the maker of the Volt hybrid car, is also an investor in Sakti3.
Unfortunately, Sakti3 hasn't given any timeline for when we can expect these batteries to be commercialized, other than saying it will be years rather than decades.