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Batteries

Solid Power Begins Manufacturing Prototype Solid-State Batteries

Solid Power expects to begin supply solid-state battery cells to BMW and Ford later this year for testing and validation purposes.

The first mention of Solid Power and its plan to produce solid-state lithium-ion batteries in the CleanTechnica archives happened in 2017, when we reported it had formed a partnership with BMW to develop batteries with no semi-liquid electrolyte. Since then, Ford has also signed on as a major investor in the Colorado-based company.

Five years later comes news that the company has completed a manufacturing line for its batteries that will be able to produce 15,000 battery cells a year. That may not seem like a lot, but those cells will be delivered to BMW and Ford for them to test in real world battery-electric vehicles. Once those validation tests are compete, it will be time to move on to volume production, which will be done by an existing battery manufacturer.

That’s the beauty of the Solid Power batteries that have been under development all these years. Not only do they have higher energy density for more range, are able to charge more quickly that conventional batteries, and have a much lower risk of catching fire, they also have one significant advantage over other solid-state batteries — they can be manufactured in a traditional battery factory without expensive upgrades for new production machinery.

“The installation of this EV cell pilot line will allow us to produce EV-scale cells suitable for initiating the formal automotive qualification process. Over the coming quarters, we will work to bring the EV cell pilot line up to its full operational capability and look forward to delivering EV-scale all-solid-state cells to our partners later this year,” Solid Power CEO Doug Campbell tells Ars Technica.

The company expects to begin shipping batteries to its automotive partners, BMW and Ford, for testing in prototype vehicles by the end of this year — a key step in the “validation” process needed to supply batteries to automakers at scale, according to Campbell. He tells CNBC that if everything goes well, he expects the automakers to sign off on Solid Power’s battery design sometime in the first half of 2024, which means the first production cars with the solid-state batteries could be in showrooms in a little over 2 years.

Solid Power was founded in 2012. Its approach is to use a sulfur-based solid electrolyte and an anode that’s very high in silicon — more than 50%, according to the company. The journey from concept to prototype to volume production will be nearly 15 years long by the time it is completed a few years from now. For the sake of the EV revolution, it can’t happen soon enough.

 
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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

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