US battery firm Solid Power aims to develop higher energy density lithium-sulphur batteries using IP from The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
Solid Power plans to manufacture solid-state rechargeable batteries after signing an exclusive agreement to use a portfolio of ORNL’s patents.
Douglas Campbell, president and CEO of Solid Power, said ORNL’s proof-of-concept battery research had demonstrated the technology’s potential to improve power, operating temperature, manufacturability and cost.
On paper, the technology delivers more power by replacing carbon-based anodes with lithium metal, which has a higher energy density.
However, finding a solid electrolyte that can match liquid’s conductivity, cycle life and operating temperature has proven difficult.
One application that could prove a game changer is still some way off. During eight months of test drives in Indiana, US, batteries using the technology had to be ‘warmed up’ and could only power very small EV cars for 240KMs, France’s Bolloré Group found.
Solid-state batteries could also prove beneficial when being transported. Without the volatile and flammable liquid electrolyte, the need for expensive safety features typically associated with lithium-ion cargos are redundant.
This is especially important as the International Air Transport Association pushes for a blanket ban of shipping lithium-ion batteries by air. See our story from last week
Solid Power recently constructed a 700-square-foot dry room facility with roll-to-roll processing capabilities that will translate to production scale. This will allow the company to begin production of the first large-scale prototypes this year.
Established in 2012 as a spin-out company from the University of Colorado Boulder, the company works within the Colorado Technology Center in Louisville, CO.