Ford has just made a major commitment to solid-state batteries and announced the investment in the start-up Solid Power , partner of BMW and also has the capital of companies like Samsung and Hyundai.
“Our participation in Solid Power allows us to continue collaborating on an important emerging technology that could really transform the design and integration of smart electric cars,” said Ford Motor Company’s technology director, Ken Washington.
The company, founded in 2021, plans to start up a fully automated facility to manufacture these batteries in the second quarter of 2019.
A promising technology that still faces challenges
The agreement between Ford and Solid Power will allow the oval firm to have the technology of solid state batteries of the next generation of electric cars , which must evolve and exceed the performance of lithium-ion batteries, and use an electrolyte solid.
And this element has several advantages:
- Increases the charge density of the battery, so it can store more energy than a lithium-ion battery of the same size.
- It can work even at ambient temperatures of -20ºC.
- It is also safer, because by eliminating the flammable liquid electrolyte, in an accident it would not ignite.
- Simplified thermal management.
“By combining state-of-the-art cathodes with metallic lithium anodes, solid-state batteries can achieve up to 50% more energy density at the cellular level compared to current lithium-ion cells, while energy improvements can be achieved even bigger with more advanced cathodes,” says Solid Power.
Therefore, these batteries provide more autonomy, shorter recharge time and higher level of security . In fact, Porsche , Toyota (probably the manufacturer that is more advanced in this race) or Fisker are some of the manufacturers who already bet on this technology.
Others like Bosch had to abandon the idea due to the huge operating costs and initial investment that would be needed to stop relying on rivals such as Panasonic or Samsung.
The main problem that Europe finds in the research and development of materials alternative to lithium is to bring the concepts to industrialization, where Asia takes the lead, well ahead of the United States.
According to this expert, the research in the field of solid state batteries is very slow and the laboratory prototypes that exist today still present problems that have to be solved.
Among them there is a basic one: they are only competitive in energy density if the anode is metallic lithium. “Lithium anodes can give problems due to the growth of dendrites after many cycles of loading and unloading, which can cause short circuits,” explains Palacín.