Mercedes-Benz teams up with Hydro-Québec for solid-state battery development


Carmaker Mercedes Benz has teamed up with Canadian battery material specialist Hydro-Québec to develop solid-state batteries. The German company will use the batteries in its electric vehicles.

Hydro-Québec’s Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage has been leading research on advanced battery materials and new battery technologies, including solid-state devices.

Now, in tandem with the German carmaker, the researchers want to test new material under field conditions. The partner companies believe an early-stage, real-world integration and trial phase of testing will accelerate the development cycle. Joint research activities will be carried out at Hydro-Québec's center of excellence in Canada and at the SCE France laboratory belonging to an Hydro-Québec subsidiary.

Solid-state advantages

“The battery is a key component of our electric vehicles,” said Jochen Hermann, VP for eDrive development at Mercedes. “Mastering their chemistry is, therefore, a focal topic for Mercedes-Benz research and development. Solid-state batteries are supposed to be a next important technology leap for e-mobility, meaning an alternative to today’s li-ion [lithium-ion] battery systems. The latest advancements Hydro-Québec researchers have made are very promising and we are looking forward to the first results of our joint development program.”

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Hopes are high for solid-state batteries to make a commercial breakthrough. Offering potentially higher energy density of more than 400 Wh/liter, more cycles at a reduced rate of degradation and less weight, development is being primarily driven by automotive companies. Solid-state batteries do not require the flammable electrolytes used in conventional lithium-ion batteries and could be far cheaper as they do not use cobalt.

Raw material sourcing

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However, market-ready devices have not materialized yet. Chinese battery giant Ganfeng – which holds a supply agreement with Volkswagen – in August announced plans for a 100 MWh solid-state battery pilot production line.

Hydro-Québec can boast 2019 patents related to a new electrolyte for lithium-ion solid-state batteries developed by the University of Porto’s Maria Helena Braga and 2019 Nobel chemistry laureate John B Goodenough. The Canadian institution said it will integrate the electrolyte into commercial solid-state batteries.

“The partnership with Hydro-Quebec has provided the critical technology development needed for commercial production of intellectual property generated at The University of Texas at Austin,” said Goodenough.

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