Solid-state batteries for electric vehicles are one step closer to production

Zoom / The solid lithium cell is pressed together by Solid Power’s new automated EV cell experimental line.

Solid Power, the Colorado-based battery developer, moved one step closer to producing solid-state batteries for electric vehicles on Monday. The company has completed an automated “EV cell pilot line” with a production capacity of about 15,000 cells per year, which Solid Power will use first and then its OEM partners for testing.

“The installation of this EV-cell pilot line will allow us to produce EV-scale cells suitable to begin the formal vehicle onboarding process. Over the coming quarters, we will bring the EV-cell pilot line up to full operational capacity and look ahead to the delivery of fully EV-scale solid-state cells to our partners. Later this year, Solid Power CEO Doug Campbell said.

Solid-state batteries differ from the lithium-ion batteries currently used in electric vehicles in that they replace a liquid electrolyte with a solid layer between the anode and cathode. It’s an attractive technology for a variety of reasons: Solid state cells must have a higher energy density, they must be able to charge more quickly, and they must be safer, because they are not flammable (which reduces package density and weight, as they would need less robust protection) .

It is one of those technologies A passing observer sees that permanently five years away, but in Europe there is already in operation Mercedes-Benz eCitaro buses with solid state packages.

This technology is taking a little longer to get ready for electric passenger vehicles, but it appears to be maturing. Solid Power is a leading solid state battery developer, established in 2012. Its approach is to use sulfur-based solid electrolyte and Anode with very high silicon content—More than 50 percent, according to Solid Power.

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Ars alum Tim de Chant described the production process in an article published in 2021 for China wire:

Regardless of the Rocky Mountain backdrop in the distance, Solid Power’s low-slung factory looks similar to any other battery factory. Inside, vats of chemicals are mixed in slurry and coated with thin sheets of metal. Chemicals are pressed to the surface by a series of rollers resembling a miniature printing machine, and at the end of the line, the prepared papers are cut into pieces, stacked, and pressed into a bag-type sleeve.

At this point, other manufacturers inject the bag with a liquid known as an electrolyte, which helps the ions move through the battery during use. But Solid Power’s innovation allows it to simply close the casing and move on to the next stage.

This new line is designed to produce the same volume of bulky bag cells currently used by automotive OEMs in their electric vehicles, with cell capacities ranging from 60 to 100 Ah. BMW and Ford will be the first automakers to receive cells for testing by the end of this year.

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