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14 04 2017 02

The market for lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) is expected to exceed $33 billion by 2019 and $26 billion by 2023, according to global market research firm SIS International Research. The success of Tesla and its Nevada-based Gigafactory facility has generated a lot of excitement in the LIB industry. Panasonic’s automobile battery sales are forecast to grow to $4 billion a year by March 2019, largely due to their partnership with Tesla.

“We think the existing technology can still extend the energy density of LIBs by 20% to 30%,” Panasonic’s President Kazuhiro Tsuga said. “But there is a trade-off between energy density and safety. So, if you look for even more density, you have to think about additional safety technology as well. Solid-state batteries are one [possible] answer.” These safety concerns about LIBs are also pushing Panasonic to look at alternative battery power sources.

Solid state batteries use a solid electrolyte instead of the electrolytic solution that is essential in transporting the positive lithium ions between the cathode and anode in today’s batteries. Researchers have succeeded in developing an efficient electrolytic solid material that significantly improves lithium ion conductance, raising hopes that batteries with much higher power densities are edging closer to practical applications.

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