Regardless of what the EVs of the future look like, it’s assumed they will be powered by the next generation of solid state lithium batteries
SolidPower: Creating the Next Generation Battery
By Bill Moore
Based on Colorado, startup SolidPower is one of at least a half dozen companies in the quest to develop a high-energy, long-lived solid state battery that promise longer range and safer operation. It’s a race that involves new kinds of materials that can be economically produced from commonly abundant minerals.
There are three factors driving the development of solid state batteries, batteries that have replaced their flammable liquid electrolyte with solid membrane separators: they promise high energy density, which translates into longer range. They offer simplified packaging. And they guarantee greater safety, explains Doug Campbell the CEO of SolidPower, a spin-off of research conducted at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
I wanted to talk with him after the company announced it had raised $20 million in funding, a portion of which will, of course, be dedicated to continuing the important material science R&D at the heart of their technology. But a significant portion will be used to build a near-scale production facility to begin perfecting the manufacturing side. The company refers to it as a “pre-pilot” production plant, which at full production could turn out 10 megawatts of battery capacity per hour.
“It’s certainly not a gigawatt facility, but it is definitely well beyond lab scale,” Campbell emphasized
Campbell understands that the pathway to producing millions of cells for the automotive industry is long and difficult, but looking ahead five to ten years, “the EV market will drive the battery market, and dare I say, dwarf the portable electronics market.”
As we delve deeper into the topic, Campbell explains more of the challenges facing him and his competitors. For example their chemistry and materials are approaching 300W/h/kg, a third better than current lithium-ion batteries, but with high energy comes the need for high power. Additionally, their battery promises the ability to run at high temperatures, as much as 300 degrees F, but winter-time temperatures are proving more difficult.
“We do believe there is a very significant and viable pathway to getting to intrinsically low temperature operation,” he told me, adding that he wouldn’t be honest if he didn’t admit it’s also a difficult challenge to solve. On the plus side, however, he also notes that the issue of cold temperature crystallization of the liquid electrolyte is eliminated in a sold state battery.
You can listen to the full 32-minute interview using the embedded MP3 player below or download it to your favorite mobile device for later playback. Find out how SolidPower plans to reach a production cost goal of $100kW/h, the “holy grail” of energy storage.
Originally published: 05 Oct 2018
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