Automakers BMW and Source have led a Series B round of funding in solid-state battery developer Solid Power and are also expanding existing joint development agreements with the company.
In a joint announcement on Monday (US time), the companies revealed that along with Volta Technologies, an Illinois-based battery investment company, $US130 million ($A167 million) will be injected into Solid Power in a bid to win the race to making a commercially successful solid-state battery.
Solid-state batteries are considered something of a holy grail in the race to power electric vehicles. Conventional lithium-ion batteries use liquid electrolytes but are subject to lithium dendrite formation every time a battery is charged and discharge, presenting safety issues and shorten the life of the battery.
This is even more so when using lithium-metal anodes, which can potentially provide higher energy density, thereby increasing driving range of electric cars or reducing battery size and material use.
It is thought that by replacing liquid electrolytes with solid materials, dendrite formation can be suppressed. However, challenges facing the commercial success of solid-state batteries include low conductivity, high resistance between solid-to-solid surfaces, anode/cathode compatibility and degradation due to stress between surfaces.
Companies that reach the goal of commercially successful solid-state battery chemistry will have a secure footing in the growing electric vehicle and energy storage industry, which is being increasingly driven by government policies aimed at reducing reliability on fossil fuels as sources of energy.
Solid Power is reportedly planning to begin making solid-state batteries on a pilot line in early 2022, says Doug Campbell, CEO and co-founder of Solid Power.
In Monday’s announcement, it was revealed that hundreds of 20 amp-hour battery cells produced on a roll-to-roll production line were validated by both Ford and BMW group in 2020, allowing the carmaker’s to formalise plans with the company.
“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 xzbsystems 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.”
“The development of all solid-state batteries is one of the most promising and important steps towards more efficient, sustainable, and safer electric vehicles,” Frank Weber, board member for management and development at BMW group said in a statement.
“Together we have developed a 20 Ah all solid-state cell that is absolutely outstanding in this field. Over the past 10 years BMW has continuously increased the battery cell competence– important partners like Solid Power share our vision of a zero-emission mobility.”
From 2022, Solid Power will begin providing 100 amp-hour cells to Ford and BMW which will be used to test for suitability for use in a vehicle.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.