Since a few years ago, Svolt Energy , a division of Great Wall Motors in China, has been hard at work developing real solid-state batteries. It might (or might not) have persuaded some CATL staff to join its research department in its haste to get there. In any case, CATL sued Svolt, and we assume that case has since been settled amicably.
Svolt Energy is the first business to develop prototype 20 Ah solid-state sulfide battery cells with an energy density of 350 to 400 Wh/kg, according to a report this week from CnEVPost . At temperatures as high as 200 C, those prototype cells passed tests for thermal runaway and nail penetration. The business claims that once those cells are made commercially available, they might enable electric vehicles to go 1,000 kilometers or more on a single charge.
Svolt Energy claims that while developing its sulfide technology has been challenging, the company is now able to manufacture large quantities of solid-state electrolyte materials, continuously prepare solid-state electrolyte films, and assemble solid-state soft pack cells using newly developed production tools. It has been granted 109 patents for sulfide battery technology, 93 of which deal with the production process.
THE ONE MILLION KILOMETH CHALLENGE New battery solutions being marketed by a number of Chinese automakers claim to be able to power an electric vehicle for up to 1000 kilometers on a single charge. In order to create a hybrid semi-solid 150 kWh battery pack that could power its ET7 high performance vehicle for 1000 kilometers, NIO reportedly approached CATL last year. According to reports, CATL told NIO to leave because it had no further business to take on.
The development of semi-solid state batteries for NIO’s ET5 and ET7 vehicles was then outsourced to WeLion, which compelled CATL to reevaluate its stance and make investments in the creation of batteries with a high nickel content. Currently, Gotion, a Volkswagen-backed company, claims that semi-solid state battery mass manufacturing can begin as early as this year.
True solid-state batteries have significant advantages over conventional lithium-ion and semi-solid-state batteries in terms of energy density, charging rate, safety, durability, and thermal management of the individual cells. This is similar to how plug-in hybrid cars may serve as a bridge to battery electric driving. Svolt Energy is working hard to build solid-state battery prototypes as fast as possible so that automakers can test them out for potential future use.
Due to the skyrocketing cost of battery raw materials, particularly nickel, producers and customers may face greater costs. In the end, as manufacturers try to strike a balance between affordability and range, they may choose for less expensive LFP batteries. A range of 1000 kilometers may be ideal for certain EV users, but it may not be necessary at all for their driving requirements.
Which would you choose: a $40,000 automobile with a 500-kilometer range between fill-ups or a $70,000 car with a 1000-kilometer range? You can’t always get what you want, but occasionally you can get what you need, as the Rolling Stones taught us. Despite their many benefits, solid-state batteries may not ultimately be the key to creating affordable EVs.
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