Solid state battery systems have long been considered the next breakthrough in battery technology, with multiple startups eager to be the first to commercialize.
Automakers were some of the top investors in technology, each looking for an edge that would make their electric vehicles safer, faster and with a wider range. Ford Motor Company and BMW Group have poured their money on battery technology company Solid Power.
Colorado-based SSB developer Lewisville said Monday that Ford and BMW’s latest $130 million Series B fund round was conducted, the latest indication the two AMEs are looking to strengthen the future of SSB transportation. Under the investment, Ford and BMW equal equity owners and company representatives will join the board of Solid Power. Solid Power received additional investment from Volta Energy Technologies, a venture capital firm located outside the Argonne National Laboratory in the U.S. Department of Energy.
Solid state batteries are named because they lack liquid electrical power, as Mark Harris explained in a one-year extra crunch article. Liquid electronic solutions are generally flammable and at risk of overheating, so SSBs are generally considered safe. The real value of SSB vs. lithium ion parts is energy density.
Solid Power says its batteries can increase power density by 50% to 100% compared to rechargeable batteries. Theoretically, electric vehicles with more power-dense batteries can travel long distances on a single charge. The solid power of this latest investment will help its manufacturing company to produce battery cells with the highest ampere hour (ah) output of its company. Under a separate joint development agreement with Ford and BMW, it will distribute OMS 100 Ah cells on a trial basis and for vehicle integration from 2022.
To date, the company has been producing cells with 2 ah and 20 ah outputs. Solid Power said in a statement that “hundreds” of 2AH battery cells were legalized by Ford and BMW late last year. Meanwhile, it is currently producing 20 Ah solid state batteries on an experimental basis with standard lithium-ion equipment. In contrast to the 20 pilot-scale cells that are 22-layers at 9×20 cm centimeters, these 100 ah cells will have larger footprints and more layers, said Solid Power spokesman Will McKenna TechCrunch.
(“Layers” refers to the number of two-sided cathodes, as McKenna explained – so a 20 ah cell has 22 cathodes and 22 anodes, each of which has a solid electrolyte divider in a single cell.) Unlike the production of solid power, traditional lithium-ion batteries must go through electronic resources and cycling in their manufacturing processes. Solid Power says these additional measures account for 5% and 30% of capital expenditure on a typical GWH-scale lithium-ion facility.