Solid Power expands production capacity to deliver test batteries to BMW and Ford in 2022 – TechCrunch
Solid Power, a Ford and BMW-backed battery developer, is expanding its Colorado-based plant’s footprint as it prepares for pilot production of its solid-state batteries early next year.
The new production facility will be dedicated to manufacturing one of the company’s flagship products, a sulfide-based solid electrolyte material, up to 25 times its current production. The new facility will also make room for the first pilot production line of its commercial grade 100 amp battery cells. These pocket cells are expected to be sent to Ford and BMW for automotive testing in early 2022, with the goal of integrating them into ready-to-drive vehicles by the second half of the decade.
Solid-state batteries have long been considered the next breakthrough in battery technology. They lack liquid electrolyte, the material that moves ions between the cathode and anode in traditional lithium-ion batteries, as TechCrunch writer Mark Harris explained. The gains from such technology, according to the developers of SSB, include increased energy density, lower costs and longer battery life expectancy.
The developers also claim they are safer – an important consideration in light of incidents such as GM’s three-time Chevrolet Bolt recall due to fire hazard. It is the liquid electrolyte that serves as the “spark that leads to thermal runaway,” Solid Power CEO Doug Campbell told TechCrunch. “We are confident that these issues that Hyundai and GM are currently facing would be solved with a solid-state battery.”
While the startup will build a new pilot production line of battery cells, Solid Power’s ultimate plan is to eventually produce only the electrolytic material and license the cell to OEMs and battery manufacturers.
“In the long run, we’re a materials company,” Campbell said. “We want to be the industry leader in solid electrolyte materials. To that end, this current expansion in cell production will likely be the company’s last, he said. The next pilot production line will produce enough to supply several OEMs with cells for automotive qualification testing, with the intention of achieving larger scale productions by automakers and battery cell producers.
The decision to license the battery cells to partners, rather than producing them all in-house, is a light, common-sense model, he added.
“Let’s face it, what is the likelihood that the little Solid Power will grow up and replace Panasonic, LG, CATL?” While some companies are trying, like Sweden’s Northvolt, Campbell added that material trading margins are higher and do not include direct competitors who are just behemoths. “It’s light, but it’s also realistic.”
The startup announced in June that it would go public through a $ 1.2 billion reverse merger with blank check firm Decarbonization Plus Acquisition Corp. III. The transaction, which is expected to generate around $ 600 million in cash, is expected to give the company enough funds until 2026 or 2027, Campbell said.
The company will need a lot of capital to get through the rest of the decade, especially since it aims to produce enough electrolyte to support an annual capacity of 10 gigawatt hours of cells by 2207. For this, it will need “orders of magnitude”. more electrolyte production capacity than even announced today (which in itself is an order of magnitude increase), Campbell said.
Solid Power does not even plan to stop electrolyte production. Campbell hinted that the company is also working on developing a low-cost cathode material – one that does not contain nickel or cobalt, two of the most expensive raw materials for batteries.
“[The industry] is going to be dominated by the cost of materials and the cost of materials is going to be dominated by the cost of this cathode material containing nickel and cobalt, ”he said. “This particular chemistry that we will unveil later this year is extremely low cost, we are talking about 1 / 20th, 1 / 30th of the cost today. [nickel manganese cobalt cathodes]. “