Electric cars that run on solid state batteries. And which large companies fund the research

Solid state batteries may arrive well before 2025. The startup Solid Power has in fact completed the installation of a pilot line that will supply Ford and BMW within the year for the first tests. But in the meantime, the race for smaller and smaller products with a lower percentage of rare earths has begun

The transition from endothermic motors to electric motors and hydrogen motors leads to a rapid exit from the stage for many key players who have not been able to reinvent themselves, and to the entry of new protagonists into the market, and moreover, innovative start-ups are still quite unknown to the general public, which has already become a fundamental second or third party for the car manufacturers carrying out the energy and ecological transition.

WHAT MERCEDES DOES WITH SILA

The recent crisis in the availability of raw materials, exacerbated by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine (especially the former is one of the largest exporters of minerals in the world) has accelerated the race for R&D on batteries among the major electric car companies , which are different from the current ones, safer (fires in the event of an accident are currently the greatest risk), and which reduce dependence on materials whose prices are constantly rising.

Mercedes-Benz is among the largest manufacturers that have first announced a battery pack with high-silicon anodes instead of carbon. He has been working on it for some time with the American company Sila, and although several startups, mostly incubated in university centers, carry out similar projects, Mercedes-Benz promises to increase the density by 20-40% above 800 Wh / l (watts -hour per liter) at the single-cell level, which “significantly” increases the autonomy of electric vehicles already with the next generation of the G-Class. That may be the main news waiting for solid-state batteries.

AMERICAN TESLA AND LUCID INSERT ON “MINI” BATTERIES

Over the Sea, in California, Lucid Motors of Peter Rawlinson, former chief engineer at Tesla, which the Qataris have relied on with their main sovereign fund, intends to revolutionize the market by leaving the chemical components unchanged, but with miniaturization of the batteries. On the one hand, this improves the performance of the vehicle (smaller batteries mean less weight to pull), and on the other hand, the number of rare earths and raw materials required for each car decreases.

Tesla has also never stopped looking for smaller and more efficient batteries, rather than lowering production costs and making its cars within reach of a few more users. In addition, they approached Japanese Panasonic, which is developing batteries the size of a soda can, the so-called 4680, whose production is expected to start in April 2023, at the factory in Wakayama, Japan and in the United States, to get closer to the factories of Elon Musk.

THE RIGHT REVOLUTION IS SOLID STATE BATTERIES

But the real quality leap only comes with solid state batteries, which until yesterday were only expected on the market from 2025. Until yesterday actually. They can predict. According to what was beaten by the news agency Energy beyond, the American startup Solid Power has actually completed the installation of a pilot line for the production of new generation cells characterized by a high content of silicon for anodes and sulfur electrolytes. The company therefore claims that it is already able to start supplying the units to its major shareholders and industrial partners, BMW Group and Ford, and to start the associated homologation processes towards the end of the year.

Not only. In an interview, Doug CampbellCEO and co-founder of Solid Power said the Colorado company that produces EV car batteries has sufficient pilot production capacity to supply prototype batteries to other automakers in addition to partners BMW and Ford Motor, but declined to give specific details about it.

It should be remembered that the startup, which was listed through a reverse merger in 2021, among its shareholders sees not only the German and American brands, but also the Korean Hyundai and Samsung, which could therefore become recipients of the new prototypes.

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