Solid Power sets up solid-state pilot production ahead of testing by Ford, BMW

Solid-state battery startup Solid Power on Monday announced installation of a pilot production line for battery cells—a big step toward delivering cells to automakers for testing.

Solid Power plans to produce cells for internal testing first, but plans to deliver cells to investors BMW and Ford for evaluation before the end of the year, the company said in a press release. That means Solid Power is on track to meet a deadline discussed last year.

The pilot line produces Solid Power’s large-format sulfide-based cells in a manner that mimics production processes for the lithium-ion cells used in current electric cars, the company claims.

Solid Power stacking machine, part of pilot battery production line

Solid Power stacking machine, part of pilot battery production line

 

At full capacity, the pilot line’s expected capacity is 300 cells per week, or 15,000 cells per year, according to Soild Power. The majority of those cells will go to automakers for testing, the company said.

Like other solid-state battery developers, Solid Power claims increased energy density, allowing more energy to be stored in a given volume. The company’s special sauce is an anode made with over 50% silicon.

Research suggests that solid-state cells aren’t always safer than conventional lithium-ion cells. But Solid Power performed a safety demonstration of its cell tech last fall—with some positive safety claims.

Solid Power solid-state battery cells

Solid Power solid-state battery cells

BMW and Ford made initial investments in Solid Power in 2017 and 2019, respectively. Ford hasn’t discussed a specific timeline, but BMW has said it plans to have prototype solid-state batteries ready by 2025, and production versions by 2030.

Other automakers are investing in solid-state battery development. Volkswagen is backing startup QuantumScape, while Toyota is developing solid-state batteries in-house. It aims to use the cells in a hybrid by 2025. Nissan also has big plans to perfect solid-state batteries on its own, with an eye toward using them in electric pickup trucks and SUVs.

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