Ilika, a developer of solid-state battery (SSB) technology, is leading a 16-month, £2.7-million (US$3.3-million) Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) collaboration, partnering with Mpac Group plc (Mpac) and the UK Battery Industrialization Centre (UKBIC).
Codenamed SiSTEM and launched 1 October 2023, the project will develop a 1.5MWh SSB assembly line capable of delivering Ilika’s A-sample SSB pouch cells to automotive OEMs and Tier 1s. Additionally, UKBIC will undertake physical trials to demonstrate Ilika’s SSB electrodes at GWh scale.
The UKBIC facility, based in Coventry, UK, provides the missing link between battery technology, which has proved promising at laboratory or prototype scale, and successful mass production. SiSTEM follows on from the successful BUS100 program, which concluded that part of Ilika’s SSB process could in principle take place using some of the equipment used for lithium-ion batteries (LIB) manufacturing, such as that present at UKBIC.
In SiSTEM, UKBIC’s formulation and coating lines will be trialed with Ilika’s SSB chemistry, in order to verify the expectations from BUS100. It is indeed very important, in order to enable adoption of SSB, that the manufacturing of this novel technology can re-use equipment invested in by the LIB industry as much as possible. Feasibility study SOLSTICE (a collaboration between Ilika and Comau) concluded that there exist no barrier to scaling-up SSB and that more than 2/3 of the required tools already exist in LIB factories.
Mpac is a global engineering and service provider of automation and packaging solutions. It designs, precision engineers and manufactures high-speed automation solutions within key sectors including clean energy. In SiSTEM, Ilika and Mpac will be working closely to design, build and commission the SSB assembly line which is expected to be fully operational by H1 2025.
It was concluded in projects BUS100 and SOLSTICE that assembly of SSB pouch cells may differ somewhat to that of LIB: this project will design the required automated tools for pouch cell assembly, which will be used by Ilika for the production of A-samples but will also be the blueprint for future scale-up.
The ATF is a UK funding program created to support large-scale industrialization. Up to £850 million of funding will be invested in developing a high-value end-to-end electrified automotive supply chain in the UK. The fund is highlighted as an important mechanism to reach targets in UK Government’s 10-Point Plan for a green industrial revolution and its Transport Decarbonization Plan.