The first solid-state batteries for cars are almost here! Colorado-based start-up Solid Power, which has seen backing from BMW, says it is starting initial production of a solid-state battery that will offer owners of electric vehicles more range and decreased charging times at a low cost.
Solid-state batteries for cars have been shown to have an energy capacity that is at least twice that of the traditional lithium-ion battery. There are other benefits as well. They don’t require rare earth materials and don’t need the intensity of cooling current battery packs do. Unlike lithium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries do not have the flammable gel or liquid electrolyte combo. Studies have shown that solid-state batteries are not only fire-resistant but very efficient- and for the consumers who prefer EVs, this is a major advance that can save money in the long run. Solid Power has stated that its batteries will have a shelf life of nearly 400,000 miles- meaning that they will last longer than the car itself.
Benefits like these make it clear why BMW would want to invest. Unlike a lithium-ion battery, a solid-state battery can be used for many years in an electric vehicle. The one major downside to the use of solid-state batteries is the difficulty in production. The manufacture and mass production is quite complex and time-consuming. Multiple start-ups like Solid Power are currently trying to develop solid-state batteries for Ears. The ideal materials and chemicals necessary for excellent ionic conductivity in a solid-state battery still have not been discovered, so it may take years for BMW to see its first car with a solid-state battery. Other startups have seen funding from giants like Honda, Toyota, and Mitsubishi.
BMW put their faith in the right company, however, because Solid Power has one key advantage. Unlike its rivals with pricey factory set-ups, Solid Power batteries can be made utilizing processes and tools in existing factories tooled to crank out lithium-ion battery cells. The initial production line will manufacture a small number of batteries for internal testing at the outset. This will also help the company decipher the ideal design and work on the approach to manufacturing. If all goes well, solid-state batteries will be shipping so BMW can test them in their prototypes by the end of 2022.
When the company reaches maximum capacity, it will have the ability to make 300 batteries each week, or 15,000 every year. Most of those, though, will go to their investors to learn more about how they work with EVs during prototype testing. Mass production, though, could begin in the next three years. Other major companies on board with Solid Power include Ford, Hyundai Motor Group, and Samsung.
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