The crowded field of solid state energy storage technology is about to get a little more crowded next year, when the German automotive supplier Schaeffler will reportedly unveil its new solid state EV battery at CES 24. If the first two words that come to your mind are “Schaeffler” and “who,” join the club. Nevertheless, the 75-year-old company known for ball bearings has gotten a firm foothold in the rarified world of solid state battery research.
New Solid State EV Battery To Be Unveiled At CES 2024
The annual Consumer Electronics Show will take place in Las Vegas on January 9-12, 2024, and AutoWeek has the scoop on the new solid state EV battery.
“At the upcoming CES 2024, supplier Schaeffler Americas will display a “’next-generation’ all-solid-state EV battery,” noted AutoWeek reporter Todd Lassa last week.
Lassa had a chance to speak with Rashid Farahati, Schaeffler Americas director of engineering, but apparently Farahati was playing it close to the vest.
“Schaeffler’s solid-state battery at CES is made with prototype parts encased in a pack built by another company that specializes in making small samples on the lab scale,” Lassa reported, which doesn’t exactly give away the game.
What Exactly Is This New Solid State EV Battery?
Lassa also took note of a collaboration between Honda, Schaeffler, and The Ohio State University Institute for Materials and Manufacturing Research on a new battery research center, to open in 2025.
The new research center is not the first project linking OSU with Honda. Back in January of 2023, OSU announced that it has partnered with Honda and the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory on a project that earned $3.8 million in funding under the Energy Department’s EVs4ALL program. The partners are tasked to develop “more affordable and efficient electric vehicle batteries.”
The EVs4ALL award builds on previous research at OSU, which yielded a prototype EV battery that can “tolerate rapid charging while exhibiting longevity far beyond the current state-of-the-art lithium-ion cells,” as described by the school.
“The technology can potentially double the usable battery lifetime, reduce pack size, decrease cell and battery cost, and enable rapid charging,” OSU emphasized. That description fits the solid state EV battery bill, though OSU didn’t use those words in its announcement.
Seriously, What Is It?
The $3.8 million grant was aimed at resolving some manufacturing challenges involved in commercial production of the new solid state battery and ensuring “drop-in compatibility” with other components. In addition, the partners were tasked with optimizing cold-weather performance.
As for what it’s made out of, OSU played that close to the vest, too. “The Ohio State battery technology is based on abundant, inexpensive materials, which exhibit exceptional longevity under extreme fast-charging scenarios,” is all the school had to say.
That leaves the solid state angle shrouded in mystery for now, though another clue surfaced in August, when Schaeffler announced that OSU is the latest institution to host its Schaeffler Hub for Advanced Research “company on campus” program.
“[T]he collaborative program will focus on all solid-state electrolyte (ASSE) battery development with future plans for fuel cell research and development,” Schaeffer explained.
“The SHARE program at The Ohio State University is the fifth worldwide and focuses on solid-state batteries and fuel cell technology. It complements our portfolio perfectly, particularly as hydrogen plays such a pivotal role for Schaeffler as energy source for a sustainable and carbon-neutral future,” they add.
Also in August, OSU professor Anne Co — the Principle Investigator for the EVs4ALL project — was tapped as the contact for a new grant of almost $3 million from the Energy Department’s ARPA-E office for high risk, high reward projects.
“The key to EV adoption is a reliable, inexpensive battery that can charge fast and provide improved performance and range retention in cold weather compared to state-of-the-art commercial options,” ARPA-E explained.
“The Ohio State University will develop a high-power battery technology featuring a high entropy oxide (HEO) anode that can tolerate rapid charging while demonstrating longevity far beyond the current state-of-the-art lithium-ion cells,” they added.
Here Comes The New Solid State EV Battery From Schaeffler
The application of high entropy oxide materials to solid state EV battery systems is a relatively new thing, which could explain ARPA-E’s interest. “The high-entropy (HE) concept is one strategy that may allow for the compositional variability needed to design new materials for next-generation batteries,” a team of Canadian researchers explained in a state-of-the-science review last year.
“Inspired by HE-alloys, HE-oxides are an emerging class of multicomponent ceramics with promising electrochemical properties,” they elaborated. “We highlight recent results on HE-oxides for the cathode and anode. In addition, we discuss some emerging results on HE-solid electrolytes and HE-alloy anodes.”
The use of ceramic material in a moving vehicle may sound like an accident waiting to happen, but when battery researchers talk about high tech ceramic material they are not sitting around the table at the local sip-and-clay.
In the meantime, something solid is afoot between Schaeffler and OSU, ceramic or not. On November 13, OSU joined with Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, US Senator Sherrod Brown, and US Representatives Joyce Beatty and Mike Carey along with Honda, Schaeffler, and representatives from the JobsOhio program to put the official seal of approval on the new battery research center, with Schaeffler taking the opportunity to underscore its commitment to solid state batteries.
“Schaeffler is developing the next generation of all solid-state battery technology to support the automotive industry’s transition to electric mobility,” said Schaeffler CTO Jeff Hemphill. “Our strategic partnership with The Ohio State University provides a hands-on and collaborative approach with the goal of providing industry-leading and scalable solutions that will position Ohio at the center of battery technology.”
Honda won the role of lead foundational partner in the project with a commitment of $15 million. If all goes according to plan, the new research center will help Honda achieve its aim of pushing solid state EV batteries out of the lab and onto the assembly line.
“We are not merely trying to establish a lab-level technology. As an automaker, we are developing all-solid-state battery technology with an eye toward mass-production,” Honda explains.
On its part, Schaeffler is not giving anything away, but they are already making the pitch for solid state technology.
“All solid-state batteries (ASSB) are an essential new technology because of their potential to revolutionize energy storage. These batteries offer higher energy density, granting devices and vehicles longer operational durations while providing an opportunity for fast charging,” Schaeffler enthuses.
CleanTechnica is reaching out to Schaeffler to see if they can confirm or deny the ceramics angle before CES, so stay tuned.
Image: Solid state battery for electric vehicles courtesy of Schaeffler.
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