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The BMW Group and Solid Power partner to drive solid-state battery adoption in EVs (updated with chemistries)

The BMW Group is partnering with Solid Power, a developer of solid-state rechargeable batteries, in a joint effort to develop Solid Power’s solid-state batteries for electric vehicle applications. In this effort, the BMW Group will assist Solid Power to advance its technology in order to achieve performance levels required for high-performance electric vehicles.

Established in 2012 as a spin-out company from the University of Colorado Boulder, Solid Power is focused on developing and scaling competitive solid-state batteries, paying special attention to safety, performance, and cost. The technology has great potential to provide the BMW Group’s electric vehicles with increased driving range and a battery with a longer shelf-life that can withstand high temperatures.

Solid Power technology combines a high-capacity cathode, a lithium metal anode and a high ionic conductivity solid separator. The battery materials are 100% inorganic and possess no flammable or volatile components.

The batteries thus provide substantially higher energy than conventional lithium-ion cells (2-3X greater) while also enabling lower cost systems due to the potential for eliminating many of the costly safety features typically associated with conventional lithium-ion systems.

For automotive applications Solid Power typically uses an NMC (nickel, manganese, cobalt) cathode material, according to Josh Buettner-Garrett, Solid Power Battery’s CTO. This is the same class of materials going into most Li-ion cells for electric vehicles today. Solid Power also has a higher capacity sulfur-based cathode that stems from its original license with the University of Colorado, but this cathode is still at the R&D stage for mainstream applications, he said.

Since the company’s inception, the Solid Power team has worked to develop and scale a competitive solid-state battery paying special attention to safety, performance, and cost. Collaborating with BMW is further validation that solid-state battery innovations will continue to improve electric vehicles. We’re looking forward to working with BMW on pushing the limits on developments around xEV batteries.

—Doug Campbell, founder and CEO of Solid Power

In September 2017, A123 Systems announced its investment in Solid Power as part of A123’s plan to couple strategic technology investments to its own substantial R&D efforts in order to develop a world-class portfolio of battery technology. (Earlier post.)

In 2015, The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Solid Power signed an exclusive agreement licensing lithium-sulfur materials for next-generation batteries. Solid Power licensed a portfolio of ORNL patents relating to lithium-sulfur compositions that to enable development of more energy-dense batteries. (Earlier post.)

Solid Power’s solid electrolytes are also based on sulfur and come from the same family of materials that was included under the 2015 ORNL license, Buettner-Garrett said. Most of the electrolytes used today were invented and developed by Solid Power.

Capitalizing on continued market expansion, Solid Power has experienced rapid company growth throughout the first-half of 2017. The battery developer recently moved into a state-of-the-art facility in Louisville, Colorado. The new facility will allow Solid Power to triple its footprint and build out the capabilities necessary to deliver commercial-quality solid-state battery prototypes, from new material synthesis through cell and battery assembly. Solid Power expects to double its executive and innovation team over the next three years.

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Comments

yoatmon

Solid Power would be wise to abandon Lithium in their quest for a solid state battery; Magnesium is a far better alternative. Lithium and Magnesium are members of the same family. However, Magnesium has two valence electrons but Lithium only one. Hence, the theoretical energy density of Magnesium is twice as high as that of Lithium. Magnesium is far less volatile than Lithium and therefore, safer. 1.4 % of the earth's crust is comprised of magnesium and far more abundant and cheaper than Lithium. Sulphur is a good candidate as a cathode material for both Mg or Li. The chemical reaction problems are inherent to both chemistries. So why indulge effort and finance in a technology less promising?

Engineer-Poet

Lithium technology is more advanced right now.  One step at a time.

Brent Jatko

I sure hope this works. I think the breakneck pace of innovation in smartphones has spoiled us as far as the speed of innovation goes.

yoatmon

@ EP:
Li will always be more advanced than any other upcoming technology. It has been around nigh unto 30 years and is getting scarcer and hence tendentiously more expensive. It's time to be replaced by something better and more abundant.

SJC

Lithium is not scarce, it is the mining and refining that lag.

Alain

Atomic weight Lithium : 7
Atomic weight Magnesium : 24

Mg may have 2 valence electrons, but is still heavier per unit of charge.

Li is abundant in seawater (Mg even much more) so will never be scarce.

It is best to have both technologies. Depending on the application, one of them is preferable, as is H2, or Na.

SJC

Solid state lithium sulfur would be good, they have carrageenan cathode binders now that increase cycles.

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