“Our technological level to produce a solid-state battery for smartphones will be mature enough in one to two years. However, it depends on Samsung Electronics whether it will be used for phones,” the Samsung SDI executive told The Korea Herald on condition of anonymity.
“As far as I know, the level of battery technology of our rival firm (LG Chem) is also similar to us,” he added.
Solid-state batteries are the next generation of batteries to replace lithium-ion batteries currently used in most smartphones and electric cars. Since the batteries are made of solid electrolytes instead of liquid electrolytes, it has a significantly lower risk of ignition or explosion. A battery usually explodes when the liquid inside flows out and reaches air or water outside.
The development has recently come to the spotlight as battery explosions have caused chronic issues for smartphones, including Samsung’s Galaxy series and Apple’s iPhone series. Last year, Samsung discontinued the Galaxy Note 7 after a series of reports on battery explosions.
“Solid-state batteries are a realistic alternative to lithium-ion batteries in solving the chronic safety issue as the development has been relatively faster than other next-generation batteries over the last 10 years,” said Choi Jung-deok, an analyst at LG Economic Research Institute.
The solid-state batteries will, however, need much time before they can be applied to automobiles, and must pass stringent safety checks, as they are directly related to a driver’s life.
“The batteries will be applied for smartphones first and then for electric vehicles after its safety is fully tested. The application for automobiles may be seen around 2025,” the Samsung SDI source said.
Currently, Japanese automaker Toyota is known to be the most advanced in solid-state battery technology in the world. It has around 200 engineers developing solid-state batteries at its Higashi Fuji Technical Center with the aim of commercializing it around 2020.
Unlike Toyota, Samsung SDI and LG Chem are likely to unveil “solid-like” batteries for electric cars, instead of directly mass producing solid-state batteries. Solid-like batteries, which have some liquid electrolytes, are safer than lithium-ion batteries and easier to produce than solid-state batteries, experts said.
By Shin Ji-hye (firstname.lastname@example.org)