Solid strength, a solid state battery company, today unveiled a pilot production line for electric vehicle batteries that will be sent to automotive partners for testing. The move represents another step in a steady move towards solid-state lithium-ion batteries, which promise unparalleled range and safety for electric vehicles.
“We have confirmed that we can use standard industry processes on this very flexible, learnable, preliminary pilot project. [production line]” said CEO Doug Campbell. “Now we are moving on to the next phase of production.”
“To the best of my knowledge – since I don’t have baseball insider information on what’s going on in Korea or Japan – but as far as I know, this will be one of the industry’s largest manufacturing plants dedicated to all-solid-state batteries. So it’s fucking cool,” he added.
Company went public through SPAC in December after lifting a few rounds. Solid Power has received backing from a long list of industry insiders including automakers Ford, BMW and Hyundai; battery manufacturer A123 Systems; and venture arm units of Samsung, Equinor and Koch Industries.
Solid Power has been working on an experimental line since 2019. This more flexible line was designed to use standard manufacturing techniques to produce even larger battery cells, starting at 2 Ah (Ah) and going up to 20 Ah. While these are good specifications for early test cells, they are not large enough for today’s electric vehicles. The new range will focus on cells ranging from 60 to 100 Ah, in line with current models.
The startup is focused on making solid state electrolytes, a material that helps move electrons between two electrodes. Solid state electrolytes have an advantage over existing liquid electrolytes in that they help prevent the growth of spiky dendrites at the anode. If these anodes become too long, they run the risk of closing the gap between the electrodes and causing a short circuit that can lead to a fire. This, along with other properties of solid-state batteries, allows the cells to store more energy and charge faster.
Most liquid electrolytes are made from volatile substances, which increases the risk of fire. As a rule, solid electrolytes are non-flammable.
The first elements will be tested in-house — “there’s a classic saying in engineering, ‘You never do your first test in front of your customer,’” Campbell said, “with the goal of sending A samples to automotive partners, which currently include BMW and Ford, to the end of the year.
Once this happens, Solid Power will continue to use the pilot line to improve its manufacturing technology. If all goes according to plan, the company will eventually release B-samples in the first half of 2024, a beta product of sorts that will point the way to a nearly production-ready C-sample. “I don’t even think we’ll mothball it then,” Campbell said. “It will continue to be the workhorse for next generation cell designs.”
Campbell said that “provided we execute and don’t hit brick walls,” commercial scale cell production could begin as early as 2026, meaning Solid Power’s development could end with an electric vehicle in 2027.
All of this is consistent with what Solid Power has been saying for years. “We pretty much stayed on our roadmap,” Campbell said. Solid-state batteries, which always seem to be just a few years away, are likely to be ready to revolutionize the electric vehicle market before the end of the decade.
Credit: techcrunch.com /