SK Innovation joins 'dream' EV battery race
A race to make "dream batteries" has begun.
SK Innovation announced Thursday it is investing $30 million in U.S. Solid Power to develop and manufacture solid-state batteries.
Solid-state batteries are touted as "dream batteries" for their high energy density and safety. They have yet to be commercialized by any battery company or auto manufacturer.
Solid Power is a leading solid state battery manufacturer based in Colorado that’s been invested in by global carmakers including Ford and BMW.
Instead of the liquid electrolytes deployed in lithium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries use solid electrolytes, enhancing their stability and safety.
Liquid electrolytes are often blamed for fires in electric vehicles (EVs) that run on lithium-ion batteries.
Not using liquid electrolytes also reduces a battery's weight and volume, enabling more powerful batteries on an EV, and longer ranges.
In the latest partnership, SK Innovation and Solid Power plan to develop solid-state batteries that use the same nickel-cobalt-manganese chemistry for cathodes in a lithium-ion battery as well as silicon for the anodes.
They are targeting an energy density of 930 watt-hour per liter (Wh/l), which is 33 percent higher than the average density of lithium-ion batteries, which is 700 Wh/l.
As an example, an EV with a lithium-ion battery that can run 700 kilometers (435 miles) on a single charge would be able to run 930 kilometers with a solid-state battery of the same size, according to SK Innovation.
Solid-state batteries being developed by the companies will be manufactured on SK’s existing production line for lithium-ion batteries.
“That will cut the cost and time for the development,” SK Innovation said. “It will bring cost competitiveness to the battery as well as allow mass production earlier than scheduled.”
Solid Power, based in Louisville, Colorado, is currently producing prototypes of the solid-state batteries. It is also producing sulfide-based solid electrolyte.
The company recently announced it would expand production of solid electrolyte at a new site in Thornton, Colorado.
“The partnership with SK Innovation is designed to validate that Solid Power’s all-solid-state production processes are scalable and compatible with existing lithium-ion production technology,” said Doug Campbell, CEO and co-founder of Solid Power.
“The ability to collaborate with a global leader in lithium-ion cell production is key to our go-to-market strategy and meeting anticipated demand.”
In Korea, Samsung SDI has been at the forefront of developing solid-state batteries. Early this year, it disclosed research by Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology about a solid-state battery that can run 800 kilometers per charge and that has an extended life cycle that can be charged over 1,000 times. The battery maker plans its commercialization by 2027.
LG Energy Solution is also in the race. In September, the company said it developed solid-state batteries with solid electrolyte and silicon anodes in collaboration with the University of California San Diego.
BY JIN EUN-SOO [firstname.lastname@example.org]