How Will Semi-Solid-State Batteries Change Our Lives?

What would consumers think most about when they purchase an EV? Most would say the battery performance, like driving range and safety. That’s why the semi-solid-state battery entered the scene. It has a gel-type electrolyte that is a state between solid and liquid, and can prevent a fire and offer a longer driving range enabled by higher energy density. What properties does a semi-solid-state battery have? And what are the prospects for the battery? We asked Dong-gyu Kim, who is in charge of the Semi-Solid-State Battery Team.

Q. Please briefly introduce yourself.

Hi. I am Dong-gyu Kim and I am in charge of the Semi-Solid-State Battery Team at the CTO Organization of LG Energy Solution. I am currently developing safer and more competitive next-generation batteries at the CTO Organization of the Next Generation Battery Research Center.

Q. Semi-solid-state batteries are gaining attention. Why?

There are a lot of talks about batteries as a variety of battery applications including EVs are commercialized. Since a battery contains concentrated energy, it requires high safety in various user environments. We are developing semi-solid-state batteries to cater to such customer needs in the market. These are the next-generation batteries that can make up for the shortages of liquid electrolyte and solid electrolyte while improving their strengths. The market expects a semi-solid-state battery would be an improvement on its lithium-ion counterpart in terms of safety and performance.

Q. What meaning does the development of semi-solid-state batteries have?

To overcome the limits of single technology, hybrid technologies are employed for semi-solid-state batteries. Many technology sectors, not only the battery industry, continue researching hybrid technologies to go one step further, blending at least two materials. In this perspective, the semi-solid state battery is being developed putting polymer/ oxide/ liquid electrolyte materials together to cover the shortcomings and maximize the strengths of each material.

Q. What is the key in developing semi-solid-state batteries?

Semi-solid state batteries have the strengths of liquid and solid and do not require much change in the conventional battery manufacturing process. Therefore, they can be commercialized faster than solid-state batteries even while they have higher safety than lithium-ion batteries.

Q. What are the prospects for semi-solid state batteries?

The most important value we pursue for semi-solid or solid-state batteries is to make them “safe” even in the harshest environment. As batteries are being used for increasingly more applications, they come in different shapes and their capacities grow. So, safety is becoming even more important. Naturally, batteries with higher safety, such as semi-solid or solid-state batteries are drawing attention. Battery makers around the world are dedicated to development of semi-solid state batteries, expecting to commercialize them faster.

Q. What are the semi-solid state batteries LG Energy Solution pursues to develop?

Semi-solid-state batteries can be commercialized faster than other next-generation batteries and are safer than lithium-ion batteries. Also, since only gel-type or a small amount of liquid electrolytes are used for them, they are free of leakage and can be made in different forms. They can be adopted for not only EVs, but also wearable devices that require especially high safety.

Q. When the development of semi-solid state batteries is completed, what changes would they bring to our daily lives?

As I have mentioned earlier, semi-solid-state batteries allow more freedom in design, and therefore can be used for a variety of applications. Currently, it is a product-driven environment where the businesses are leading the use and consumption of the products. However, it can be transformed into a customer-driven one where the batteries can be used for any applications customers need. Since these are batteries with higher safety and without leakage, they offer versatile uses. In that aspect, customer needs will be more important.

Q. What is the state of your technology development?

As a leading global company in battery technology, LG Energy Solution has diverse technology portfolios for our semi-solid/ solid-state batteries research. Our plans are to commercialize a semi-solid state battery by 2026 or 2027 and to commercialize a sulfide solid-state battery by 2023. As for the semi-solid-state battery, we are currently considering developing technology for EVs that have high business opportunities and demand the highest safety standards for passengers. However, we also think about other applications such as wearable devices.

Q. The high versatility and safety you said about semi-solid-state batteries is amazing. As much as we expect the semi-solid-state battery we will be meeting soon, we are also curious about your job and attitude toward what you do. Is there anything you do to have your own expertise?

The rechargeable battery was first commercialized in the 1990s and now is a very mature technology sector. Improving expertise in this sector is only natural as a researcher. If you are researching next-generation batteries, you have to know what other companies and research institutes across the world are working on, in addition to perfecting technology. As for me, I read research papers to learn about the research trend and communicate with other research institutes both at home and abroad.

Q. What is the ability you need for doing your job as a battery developer?

Curiosity supported by hard work. Like in other professional sectors, you should continue researching and studying to understand the latest technologies and harness them for your own research. In studying battery, although how well you do your work is important, learning what research is going on in other institutes and how to adopt the findings to your research to create synergy is meaningful as well. Plus, for more in-depth research, you really should have curiosity about various sectors while focusing on one sector is also important.

Q. What is your attitude toward your job?

I think growth through work comes foremost. Reward and environment are essential considerations when choosing a job, but I put a priority on whether I can grow through my job.

I believe I need a long perspective like we do in a marathon to continue research and that is possible only when growth is accompanied in the journey. The same goes for people I work with. So, while I value work performance, I try to give them growing experience while they resolve issues in their work as much as possible.

Q. How do you think LG Energy Solution can contribute to society with your work?

If my work benefits the public, not only the company, that would be the best for me as a researcher. My research area is green energy, which I believe allows me to contribute to a better environment. In that sense, I and my colleagues at LG Energy Solution are happy.

We will continue our effort to provide more efficient energy and a “safer” environment to use batteries in the right time through our research on semi-solid/ solid-state batteries.