Solid-State Battery Technology on the Moon in 2021

By: | April 9th, 2019

Solid-State Battery Technology on the Moon in 2021

Image from Pixabay

What’s so great about solid state batteries to cause all the excitement?  In theory, they will cost less, last long, and be capable of more charge/discharge cycles than traditional lithium-ion batteries. And why are liquid electrolytes lithium-ion batteries a thing of the past?

For starters, solid state batteries may have higher energy density, eliminate the need for cobalt, weigh less, and be smaller than traditional lithium-ion batteries. And as a bonus, they won’t explode or catch fire.

NGK SPARK PLUG CO. LTD., a manufacturer with over 80 years of experience in spark plugs and ceramics, headquartered in Nagoya, Japan, and lunar exploration company, ispace, inc., announced today that NGK SPARK PLUG has agreed to participate as a Corporate Partner of the world’s first commercial lunar exploration program “HAKUTO – R”.

NGK SPARK PLUG and HAKUTO-R have also agreed to transport a trial design of NGK SPARK PLUG’s solid-state battery technology to the Moon in 2021.

Today’s lithium-ion batteries consist of liquid electrolytes, which are not suitable for lunar conditions. As the Moon’s poles can reach -150 °C (approx. -240 °F) in temperature, the liquid would freeze, which would cause the expansion of volume and risk of damaging the internal structure of the battery. Therefore, a stable power supply in space and on the Moon is critical for exploration and further development.

All solid-state batteries are promising candidates for resolving the intrinsic drawbacks of current lithium-ion batteries such as electrolyte leakage, flammability, and limited energy density.

NGK SPARK PLUG has been pursuing research and development on “oxide-based ceramic electrolyte” battery technology with a focus on providing a wider operating temperature range and higher safety than other types. The choice of oxide eliminates the risk of combustion or hazardous gas leakage, and the company leverages its ceramics expertise in material and processing to improve the performance of its solid-state battery material.

At the same time, NGK SPARK PLUG has developed a unique capability of non-sintering the oxide-based electrolytes, instead of the common practice of sintering (densification of oxide electrolyte using a high temperature treatment). This means NGK SPARK PLUG will be able to eventually make the batteries larger for multiple applications.

Takeshi Hakamada, Founder & CEO, ispace: “Stable power supply will be the most critical component to enable industry to take to the Moon. Ultimately, this means NGK SPARK PLUG’s contributions will facilitate the expansion of human presence into outer space.”

Bianca Van der Watt

More articles from Industry Tap...