For anybody who even remembers what a vacuum tube is, it is remembered as an ancient and inferior technology compared to the solid state electronics of today, such as the device you are reading this on right now. But in the early 20th century vacuum tube electronics was a marvel of technology. Radio and audio equipment was simply magical. Even today, the sound quality of vacuum to base audio devices is sought after by enthusiasm looking for that warm “tube sound”. Television inspired a generation of sci-fi enthusiasts, dreaming up new dreams with the belief that literally any technological achievement could be achieved. Vacuum tube based video also stayed relevant for quite some time, with CRTs remaining prevalent even into the 2000s.
But when it comes to the electronics that power our everyday devices, computers, as well as industrial and control equipment, vacuum tubes are genuinely inferior to solid state circuits. Vacuum tubes are fluid based, using gasses to manage the flow of electrons. As compared to solid state transistors, this makes vacuum tubes slow, heavy and sometimes even potentially dangerous.
While the device you are reading this on achieves it’s amazing technical capabilities with the superiority of solid state circuits, the battery which provides the actual electrons to do computing is fluid based, using liquids to manage the flow of electrons between the anode and cathode of the battery itself. Quite similar to vacuum tubes, these batteries are slow, heavy and sometimes even potentially dangerous.
But now solid state technology for batteries is here! And there are a few players in the space. Hydro-Québec has partnered with Mercedes to develop lithium metal battery technology. These batteries are super light, highly durable, and provide high energy density levels as well. Panasonic and Toyota have partnered up to deliver solid state batteries, with a focus on cost-effectiveness. And Samsung is making bold claims for their groundbreaking solid state batteries based on silver-carbon anode technology.
The three pillars of useful battery technology are energy density, charge time, and number of charging cycles. Cost is also a crucial factor, there are technologies superior to liquid based lithium ion batteries; but these are cost-prohibitive, preventing widespread consumer adoption. This is where solid state batteries have the potential to make a difference. As we have seen, the technology of solid state batteries delivers superior performance for energy density, charge time, and charging cycles. Cost-effective manufacturing is also coming to fore.
An exciting development is underway for these solid state batteries. The ESWE public transport operator in Wiesbaden has placed an order with Mercedes for about 50 solid-state battery powered electric buses. While city buses do appear to be quite mundane at first, this is an exciting next step for solid state batteries. Any new battery technology takes a long time to go from labs and prototypes to real world applications. These electric buses are a major milestone to prove out the performance and reliability of solid state batteries in a rough and tumble environment. Even more importantly, this order of about 50 solid state battery-powered buses signals that we are nearing competitive price points. And in order for solid-state battery prices to fall into the consumer product range manufacturers will need to achieve economies of scale. Public transportation orders are a great start to get the flywheel of manufacture scalability spinning here.
We here at MX-Fusion love mobile devices, with the mobile apps that run on them, and this requires batteries. We are looking forward to solid-state battery technology on our mobile devices, so we can have longer-lasting enjoyment of our music listening experience.
Now let’s enjoy a fusion for KnightsBridge | Electric Boogaloo – Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo: