Last Updated on April 10, 2021 by Henry John
Lithium-ion and lithium polymer batteries are still the dominant forms of batteries, but that wouldn’t be forever.
Batteries that has solid electrode and a solid electrolyte known as solid-state batteries are tipped to overtake and replace lithium-ion batteries in different areas of applications, especially in Electric Vehicles.
The advancement of battery technologies are pivotal to the advancement and development of many technologies, and solid-state battery technology is at the center of it all.
For EVs specifically, extracting maximum range and reducing charging time of batteries are the major battery-related challenges. And amongst all proposed solutions, solid state battery is the brightest.
According to marketsandmarkets, the global solid state battery market size is estimated to grow from $62 million in 2020 to $483 million by 2027. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 34.2% during the forecast period.
Here is a list of major companies developing and producing solid-state batteries today:
1. Solid Power
Solid Power is a leading developer of all-solid-state rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles. Its batteries are extremely energy-dense, 50% denser when compared to lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.
Solid Power’s batteries can also power devices such as portable electronics, aircraft, and satellites.
There have been numerous reports, from China and across the world, of Teslas bursting into flames as a result of battery damage. Tesla, the most popular EV maker, with all its ‘supposed’ advanced lithium-ion battery technology seemingly can’t stop the trend of its EVs exploding as a result of battery damage.
And the problem is not just with Teslas, every electric vehicle that’s powered by lithium-ion batteries is prone to such explosions, simply because lithium-ion rechargeable batteries have flammable liquid electrolytes.
Solid-state batteries like the ones developed by Solid Power do not contain volatile or flammable liquid components, as such, they are safer.
The company currently produces 20 Ah multi-layer all-solid-state lithium metal batteries on its continuous roll-to-roll production line based in Louisville, Colorado. However, the all-solid-state batteries it currently produces are dimed as prototypes that are currently being validated by the company’s strategic partners.
Solid Power is expected to sell its all-solid-state batteries this year, however, the batteries for automotive applications are expected to hit the market by 2026.
QuantumScape is an industry-leading public company (NYSE: QS) that is developing solid-state lithium metal batteries for electric vehicles that provides both high specific energy and high energy density. The company is based in San-Jose and backed by Bill Gates, Volkswagen, Continental AG, and George Soros among other prominent investors.
Arguably, QuantumScape’s all-solid-state battery technology is currently the most advanced. Its prototype battery can charge to 80% capacity in 15 minutes and that’s “faster than either conventional battery or alternative solid-state approaches are capable of delivering”.
One of the biggest challenges of developing all-solid-state batteries is the complication around increasing their capacity and charging time. In other to increase the capacity of these batteries, their energy density per volume and per kilo has to be increased.
The trick is to be able to pack as much energy as possible per kilo of the battery, deliver high rates of power and avoid dendrites formation. Dendrites are formed during the charging process at high rates power and they cause batteries to fail.
As such when normal solid-state batteries are being charged at a very high power rate, in order to speed up the charging time, dendrites are formed and the battery fails, and nobody wants that.
QuantumScape recently announced that it has overcome this problem, a major technological breakthrough, according to its recent data, its solid-state separators can work at very high rates of power while avoiding dendrite formation. This breakthrough enabled its batteries to fast-charge to 80% capacity in 15 minutes.
And the company also announced in February that it was able to produce multilayer solid-state batteries that can charge at high rates of power and get to 80% capacity in 15 minutes while avoiding dendrites formation.
This is a much-needed and awaited breakthrough that puts the company ahead of the pack in the race to develop commercial solid-state batteries that could be used by electric vehicles.
Its common knowledge that in order to make batteries of any type, one needs electrolyte (chemical source for producing electricity) and electrodes (anodes and cathodes).
Ampcera is a niche solid-state battery company that focuses on the development high performance solid-state electrolyte materials. Its solid-state electrolyte materials are designed for solid-state batteries that will be used in electric vehicles and other applications.
Its solid-state electrolyte materials include sulfides, NASICON-type phosphates, and garnet-structure oxides and they are commercially available, orders can be made through MSE Supplies.
Ampcera protects its technology through a growing list of U.S. and international patent applications. Its electrolyte membranes are characterized by high ionic conductivity, high critical current density against lithium metal (>450 Wh/kg), and has a controllable thickness of 20 – 75 microns. These characteristics make it possible for its electrolytes to be sold relatively cheap and charged fast.
It produces its solid-state electrolyte using a roll-to-roll manufacturing technology, which means its electrolytes can be integrated into higher energy density solid-state batteries suitable for electric vehicles with minimal changes to the industry standard production.
Ampcera has over 100 industry customers and R&D collaborators, from major automotive OEMs to solid-state battery makers. The company is headquartered in Silicon Valley, California, and has a research and development laboratory in Tucson Tech Park, Arizona.
BrightVolt is a manufacturer of rechargeable solid-state lithium-polymer batteries developed for IoT devices. Instead of using the conventional liquid electrolyte used in lithium-ion batteries, BrightVolt uses a proprietary polymer matrix electrolyte, which makes its batteries more reliable, stable, and safer than conventional lithium-ion batteries.
Polymers have properties of both a solid and a liquid, and this is possible because they are made up of long chains of molecules. They exist in natural forms like hairs, nails, wool and silk, and can be artificially formed (synthetic polymers) like nylon and polyethylene. And polymers can be pliable (thermoplastics), elastics (elastomers), and permanently rigid (thermosets).
There are polymers that can act as electrolytes (polymer electrolytes), these polymers have many advantages over liquid electrolytes, one of which is they tend to have a higher energy density.
Since polymers can be artificially formed, polymer electrolytes can be engineered to have the best possible characteristics; eliminating many shortcomings of liquid electrolytes.
BrightVolt’s polymer matrix electrolytes are polymeric solid ion-conducting elements with no free-flowing volatile solvent in their cell constructions, which makes batteries made with it more stable and safe.
They also tend to have a higher energy density because they bond directly to electrodes, eliminating deadweights and creating thin layers that have a total cell electrode thickness less than 0.45mm, in comparison, conventional lithium-ion cell electrodes have a thickness that is typically greater than 0.70mm.
On a larger scale, that 30 – 60% difference is an enormous advantage when weight is a critical factor. In IoT devices, weight is indeed a critical factor, and BrightVolt’s targeting the IoT industry with its polymer matrix electrolyte technology is a no-brainer.
5. ProLigium Technology
ProLogium is one of the leading all-solid-state battery developers and manufacturers, it uses lithium-ceramic (oxide solid) electrolytes in its batteries and is one of the very first to reach mass production.
The company is based in Taiwan, and it started mass producing its solid-state lithium-ceramic batteries in 2017 at its G1 factory located in Taoyuan. The factory has a capacity of 40 MWh and produces batteries that are mainly used in consumer and wearable electronics products, and doesn’t serve the electric vehicle market.
Nonetheless the company is expected to begin mass production of lithium-ceramic solid-state batteries that can serve the electric vehicle market at its G2 factory, also located in Taoyuan. The G2 plant construction was completed in 2020 and is expected to be up and running this year, having a production capacity between 1 – 2 GWh.
The company has signed strategic cooperation agreements with top OEMs, including electric vehicle makers, NIO and AIWAYS. It has also attracted significant investments totaling 100 million USD from dGav Capital, SBCVC, FAW Group and the Bank of Group Investment.
ProLogium has been issued over 70 patents in the USA, China, Germany, Taiwan, France, England, Korea, and Japan, and has received numerous international awards for its technological advances which include the prestigious Edison Awards which it won in 2019.
Its BiPolar+ 3D Structure Solid-State EV Battery Pack was the 2019 Edison Awards Gold Winner in the Automotive Materials and Manufacturing category. The battery has an overall energy density of 29% to 56% higher than the conventional lithium-ion batteries being used in EVs today. Its pack energy densities can reach 176 -183 Wh/kg and 405 Wh/L.
ProLogium is a big deal in the solid-state battery space, it may not get the kind of recognition the likes of QuantumScape gets, nonetheless, its technology is no joke.
They pioneered the use of lithium-ceramic electrolytes for solid-state batteries, and the fact that they are already mass-producing is a huge advantage.