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Samsung Could Give Toyota Prius Prime Tesla-Like Distance With Its New Battery

Technology is cool, but what is even better is when technology advances. What Samsung is doing right now with battery technology could give the Toyota Prius Prime a similar range as the Tesla Model 3. Here is what they are doing.
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I have other articles that have talked about the advancement of battery technology. I have hinted at solid-state batteries being the technology of the future, and now I think I am right.

Samsung has been working with battery technology that will advance everything we currently know about Lithium battery tech. They are reaching the end of their research, and if conclusively it proves positive, here is what it could mean for cars like the Toyota Prius Prime.

Current Battery Problems With Lithium-Ion
It is no secret that electric cars that are using Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) are ticking time bombs. Telsa has had multiple cars catch fire and burn down, but they are not the only ones. GM has had the Volt burn down too. Pretty much any electric vehicle that has Li-Ion is susceptible to this issue. The sheer safety fact has been a significant problem with current Lithium tech.

Another issue that we have been facing with Lithium is a capacity loss. This capacity loss is due to dendrites. Dendrites are a crystal or crystalline mass with a branching tree-like structure. When the flow of electrons happens in the batteries between the anode and cathode (positive and negative) terminals, these dendrites form and cause the capacity loss.

Solid state battery make up

The third problem we have also faced with Lithium tech is that currently, it needs a no oxygen environment to be produced. The current way Li-ion batteries are made is very costly, which translates into higher costs to the consumer.

These three issues, and the fact that current technology is not as energy-dense as it could be, give us a hazardous power source. Although Li-ion is the best power source, we have right now. That has changed.

Samsung Solid-State Batteries Are The "Triple-Crown" Problem Solver
Ah, the triple crown. Often we find this term in horse racing, but what does it mean for battery technology? Excellent question. It means that we are solving all the problems of current technology with further research and development. Here is how Samsung is doing that.

Lithium batteries were unsafe, fire hazards, solid-state changes that. The liquid electrolytes have been replaced with solid sulfide electrolytes. What this translates into is a safe battery. The batteries are far less likely to rupture or leak, which increases the safety factor. Crown one.

The next hurdle is the capacity loss. Even though companies like Tesla and Toyota have done a fantastic job with battery life, they are still far from perfect. The dendrites still form inside the batteries, and over time, we end up with a capacity loss. With the silver carbon layer that would be found in solid-state batteries, this would inhibit dendrites from forming and allow for optimal electron flow from the anode to cathode. Solid-state batteries would have no capacity loss over time. Or at least fo 1,000 cycles, according to Samsung. Crown two.

Samsungs solid state battery layers

Crown three is where this gets interesting. Due to the makeup of the solid-state battery, the process to build it would be much different. No longer would it be required to make these batteries in an oxygen-free environment. The production cost could be lowered by as much as 40%. That is huge.

Solid state batteries will be built at lower cost

With these three things right here, Samsung effectively achieves the "triple-crown" of making everything about the current technology of Lithium better. But there is one thing I have not touched on just yet.

What Samsung's Technology Means For Toyota Prius Prime
This technology would not be specifically only for Prius Prime, but any car that currently uses Lithium technology. I do need to help you wrap your mind around why it would be beneficial for cars like Prius first.

Currently, Prius Prime only has a range of 25 miles on "electric-only." That is not that great, to be honest. The thing that solid-state batteries would provide the Prius Prime is a far more energy-dense source of power.

Battery power is measure in watt-hours per liter. Currently, gasoline has about 15 times more energy than Lithium does but only in the raw form. After we take into account that we only get about 40% use of gasoline energy, we can see that it makes sense to focus on battery tech.

Lithium battery vs Gasoline

If we could harness the full potential of Lithium technology, we could increase the range of which our electric cars travel exponentially. Let me put this into numbers so you can understand it better.

Solid-state, according to Samsung, could give us 9.65 times better energy output. That means your Prius Prime that only goes 25 miles right now could go 240 miles, respectively. This technology blows my mind.

Not only would we use far less gasoline, but we would now have a Prius that was even more amazing.

Conclusion
We are on the brink of a massive breakthrough with battery technology. I have been following this story over the past couple of years, and I am telling you solid-state batteries are the next quantum leap.

I cannot wait to see what solid-state batteries will do for the Prius Prime and all of the Toyota line up. I am confident this will be the ultimate gamechanger if Toyota should choose to use it in their cars.

That is all for today. I look forward to seeing you in the next story. Is Toyota Discontinuing The Prius?

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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Instructor of Automotive Technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters


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Comments

It makes no sense to me to put a battery in a plug-in that gives it more than 50-60 miles in electric-only range. I'd rather see less weight and a lower price. The Prius Prime could use AWD and more power. It doesn't have to be as quick as the RAV4 Prime to attract attention.
Or... just eliminate that costly ICE and use a newer, cheaper, small-ish battery that could give us 600 miles of range. At that range no one is worrying about range. In addition, we could see prices as low or lower than any hybrid.
That is the plan in the future when Toyota's solid-state battery is ready for production. However, not much more than a 300 mile range will be necessary due to a 5-7 minute recharging time. It makes sense to keep weight down.
With 9.65 times the energy density the Prime would indeed get fantastic mileage. But imagine something like the Hyundai Kona EV or the Chevy Bolt! We could then be seeing almost a 2400 mile range. At that range the notion of needing gasoline range extending engine. Let us imagine a battery only half the size of the 1000lb 64KWh battery. We save 500 lbs of weight and still have 1200 miles of range in a car that now weighs about the same as a traditional car with even greater efficiencies that come with having to move less mass.
The 9.65 number is nonsense, nobody is claiming anything like that for solid-state batteries. Metal air batteries have shown numbers like that but so far no one has figured out how to build one that has the durability that would be necessary. The tone of the article that lithium ion batteries are an extreme fire hazard is also objectionable. Yes they can catch fire but it hardly ever happens, gasoline fires are an order of magnitude more likely to happen. The inherent safety of solid state batteries will make a big difference mostly because it will reduce the costs associated with protecting the batteries and 0 fires is better than a few fires. But the author deliberately exaggerated the risk.
Run the numbers. No one exaggerated anything. Facts are facts.
Well said. Couldn't agree more.
It sounds wonderful. But the catch is .... when will this new battery technology be actually deployed in actual production of cars?? If it's this year, yes then it's mind blowing. Bye bye Tesla! But in 3 years? 5 years? Remember Toyota is also working on solid state battery, and it's projected to go to production in 5 years!! That's a long time. And why should Samsung give the battery to Toyota when it could easily sell it to fellow Korean conglomerates Hyundai/Kia first?
I'll believe it when I can buy it. Promises of advances in battery tech have a long history of producing nothing. If it does come to pass, we won't be seeing many 1000-mile range batteries. Maybe 400 miles tops for some cars. The batteries would still need to be charged, and charging takes a long time. Much more likely would be a smaller battery, hopefully costing less, that would give sufficient range. I also wonder about global silver supplies. Battery tech relying on silver would drive up demand for limited supplies, driving up the cost of silver and hence the battery as a whole -- another reason to keep the battery smaller. Solar panels have gotten cheaper primarily by the reducing the amount of silver used. Reducing battery degradation would be good benefit. What we really need is a good-enough battery made with abundant and cheap materials. That would be a great advance.
Silver has never been a significant component of solar cells. Their primary material is silicon, also known as sand. Silver certainly isn’t significant enough to account for the 75 percent drop in the cost for solar cells. The primary drivers for the drop in price is China and manufacturing scale.
I really hope solid state batteries are not fusion.... perpetually 20 years away.
It makes absolutely no sense to increase the electric-only range of the Prius Prime to 240 miles. At that point, just make the battery a bit bigger and dump the gas engine completely. No, it's far more likely that the battery would be shrunk to 1/5 the current size. Give it a 50 mile electric range, lower weight, lower cost, and more cargo area. That's more than enough range for the average person's daily drive. And that's the key to electric vehicles, hybrid or not. They're designed to be charged every day overnight, and most people won't use more than 20-40 miles. Then, for those uncommon times that more range is needed, the question is how to provide that. An electric car shoves a much larger battery in the car -- lots of expensive weight that's mostly unused. A plug-in hybrid shoves in a gas engine -- proven technology that has to be maintained. Putting both range extension options into the same vehicle is pointless and only confers the disadvantages of both.
I agree that a PHEV doesn't need a huge EV range, but an engine is also dead weight most of the time. Perhaps not as much as a large battery. I Bolt battery weighs 960 pounds. If it could be 1/5th the size then it would weight about 200 lbs. which is much less than most gas engines. Additionally, a PHEV is an interim solution until there are more EV options and until the charging network is vastly expanded, which will happen. Ultimately, gas engines are dead, or at least need to die.
I agree on the idea of making a smaller battery to yield a range of 300 or so miles. As Timothy Parker notes a 200lb battery would mean that an EV would possibly 150-250 lbs lighter than an ICE vehicle. As to the predicted energy density of 9.65 times current densities, we will have to wait to see if this can be a commercial product. OTOH, even a simple doubling or tripling of energy density will create a disruption in the EV market that will spark a huge migration to EVs.
The trick is that we are always on the brink of a battery technology breakthrough. Samsung battery engineers are very talented, and they announced 3 years ago that they were coming out with automotive EV batteries that would have twice the storage as Panasonic's 2170 batteries used in the Tesla Model 3. But they have not been manufactured yet in volume. Samsung showed that they could build a promising prototype graphene battery in 2018. Graphene is an amazing material that enabled their prototype battery to recharge fully in 1/3rd the time of conventional Lithium Ion batteries, but most likely we will only see them used in phones, and that will be maybe 1-2 years away from now. Similarly their latest battery design does show great promise with longer life and greater energy density. But again it is still in the early prototype stage of development, and it will probably be 2-3 years before they produce phone batteries based on this technology, and another 2-3 years before car batteries are produced. Previously, Elon Musk was asked about solid state batteries in an open conference call, because the press was busy plastering the internet with stories of new, innovative battery technologies that would be far better than the lithium Ion batteries used today. He said that there were many promising technologies out there, but the road from university lab experiments, to prototype batteries, to mass battery manufacturing is a long one, with most ideas unable to make it to production for a myriad of reasons. He said that Tesla was one of the world's largest buyers of lithium ion batteries, and if anyone had a better battery that they should bring it by Tesla for them to evaluate for production/purchase. Shortly after that Tesla bought Maxwell Technologies.