Backed by BMW and Ford Motor, the Colorado-based battery start-up, Solid Power, has officially begun pilot production of an innovative, solid-state battery cell. If successful, this new battery technology promises EVs longer range, quicker recharging, and reduced risk of fires.
Solid-state batteries have earned a great deal of attention over the last decade, as leaders in the EV industry look for tangible ways to improve range and combat range anxiety whilst making EV charging more streamlined and convenient.
However, there has long been question of whether or not a solid-state battery design (which abandons the liquid or gel electrolyte design of lithium-ion batteries) can withstand years of use in an EV. Moreover, the issue of production affordability has remained a difficult obstacle for researchers to overcome. Fortunately, that’s expected to change in the next few years.
Solid Power has adopted a rather unique approach, as the company claims its batteries can be produced using the tooling and processes already in place in current factories making lithium-ion battery cells. This would circumvent the need for specialized production factories, which are an exceedingly costly endeavour.
Solid Power’s pilot production line will reportedly “produce batteries in small numbers for internal testing, as it works to refine its battery design and fine-tune its manufacturing approach.” The company also plans to begin shipping battery prototypes to its automotive partners, BMW and Ford, before the end of the year. “This is a key step in the validation process needed to supply batteries to automakers at scale,” says CEO Doug Campbell.
Campbell also told CNBC that if all goes well, he expects the automakers to sign off on Solid Power’s battery design sometime in the first half of 2024, at which point the design would be handed off to existing battery manufacturers for mass production.