Solid Power is one of the leading companies working on all solid-state batteries (ASSB) for automobiles. In September of 2018, the Ford played a major role in the company raising $20 million in investment funding. Part of the attraction is that Solid Power just built a fully automated, roll-to-roll production facility used for making battery electrodes, which is anticipated to be fully operational in Q2 2019. Ford’s involvement will help meet that goal.
So, why should Ford’s investment in a battery company be news? Here’s why: Electric cars currently rely upon energy provided by lithium-ion batteries. While this technology continues advancing to provide batteries with longer range and shorter charging periods, it isn’t the only game in town. In fact, it’s not be the best.
Safer Source of Energy
Lithium-ion batteries get their power by using a flammable organic solvent to generate a charge. If that battery catches fire, the blaze burns without added oxygen, releases toxic chemicals and consequently, is much more difficult to put out than most fires. On the other hand, solid-state battery technology uses solid, non-flammable electrodes and solid electrolytes, in contrast to the combustion-prone liquid or polymer electrolytes used in Lithium-ion. Therefore, solid-state batteries offer a safer alternative.
In addition to safety, solid-state batteries provide another advantage. They charge faster and hold more energy, estimated up to 50% with potential for even more. So, what’s the holdup? It seems a no brainer to convert the standard to solid-state from the “wet” lithium-ion.
Cost is the Obstacle
Cost is the big elephant in the room. Isn’t it always. No one in the car industry has figured out a way to scale solid-state batteries for electric cars. Yet, at least. Many companies are working on building a solid-state battery to replace the lithium-ions, from the giant Toyota to small electric car and tech startups.
BMW Group already invested with Solid Power in December of 2017. Ford obviously realizes the potential in helping to develop this next generation of batteries. Its unconventional CEO is on a quest to bring back the venerable American automaker to a leadership position. We discuss what Jim Hackett has up his sleeve here. If Solid Power can scale production on a workable battery, that would certainly be a feather in Hackett’s cap.