U.S. company Solid Power plans to begin pilot production of solid-state batteries suitable for use in electric vehicles by early 2022, having received an additional $130 million in funding from existing investors Ford, BMW and Volta Energy Technologies.
Solid Power began producing smaller, 20 amp-hour solid-state battery cells at its Colorado pilot facility in late 2020, and says that its own testing shows stability over more than 250 cycles and capability of continuous discharge at rates beyond what an accelerating vehicle would require. With the latest round of investment, the company expects to begin scaling these up to produce “full-scale automotive batteries,” ready to begin the process of integration into electric vehicles.
Batteries of the future
Solid-state batteries are viewed by many as the most promising pathway in new battery technologies, with the potential to allow for much larger storage capacities than today’s lithium-ion products whilst also overcoming many of the safety and degradation issues associated with them.
“Solid-state battery technology is important to the future of electric vehicles, and that's why we're investing directly,” said Ted Miller, Ford's manager of Electrification Subsystems and Power Supply Research. “By simplifying the design of solid-state versus lithium-ion batteries, we'll be able to increase vehicle range, improve interior space and cargo volume, deliver lower costs and better value for customers and more efficiently integrate this kind of solid-state battery cell technology into existing lithium-ion cell production processes.”
While the interest of major automobile players is a clear sign of the technology’s potential, it may still be a while before solid-state batteries begin to make any market impact. Solid Power says that from the beginning of 2022 it will be able to supply the “full-scale” 100 amp-hour cells to Ford and BMW, who will begin to qualify and test them for use in electric vehicles.
By focusing on “manufacturability” from the start, Solid Power claims it has been able to accelerate the development of the technology ahead of many other research institutes and companies. “a breakthrough battery will not find a place in the market if it can't be produced at scale with acceptable costs,” said Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, CEO of Volta Energy Technologies. “The fact that Solid Power is already producing multi-layer all-solid-state batteries using industry-standard automated commercial manufacturing equipment is why Volta is excited to ramp up its earlier investment. The company's partnership with BMW and Ford will further accelerate the full commercialization of Solid Power's batteries.”
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