On Monday, Colorado-based EV battery maker Solid Power announced that it has received a $130 million Series B funding round from the BMW Group, Ford Motor Company, and Volta Energy Technologies, the energy venture capital firm spun out from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. Along with the capital investment, Ford and BMW have expanded existing joint development agreements with Solid Power to secure all solid-state batteries for future electric vehicles.
The investment positions the firm to produce full-scale automotive batteries, increase associated material output and expand in-house production capabilities for future vehicle integration. The BMW Group and Ford say they plan to use Solid Power’s low-cost, high-energy all solid-state battery technology in future electric vehicles.
“BMW and Ford now share leading positions in the race for all solid-state battery-powered electric vehicles,” said Doug Campbell, CEO and co-founder of Solid Power. “Solid Power now plans to begin producing automotive-scale batteries on the company’s pilot production line in early 2022 as a result of our partners’ continued commitment to Solid Power’s commercialization efforts.”
The firm’s battery technology replaces the flammable liquid electrolyte that is used in conventional lithium-ion batteries with a proprietary sulfide solid electrolyte.
As a result, Solid Power says its “all solid-state” batteries are safer and more stable across a broad temperature range, can provide a 50-100 percent increase in energy density compared to the best available rechargeable batteries, enable cheaper, more energy-dense battery pack designs and (significant) are compatible with traditional lithium-ion manufacturing processes, so no new production infrastructure is required.
“Solid-state battery technology is important to the future of electric vehicles, and that’s why we’re investing directly,” said Ted Miller, Ford’s manager of Electrification Subsystems and Power Supply Research. “By simplifying the design of solid-state versus lithium-ion batteries, we’ll be able to increase vehicle range, improve interior space and cargo volume, deliver lower costs and better value for customers and more efficiently integrate this kind of solid-state battery cell technology into existing lithium-ion cell production processes.”
“Being a leader in advanced battery technology is of the utmost importance for BMW. The development of all solid-state batteries is one of the most promising and important steps towards more efficient, sustainable, and safer electric vehicles. We now have taken our next step on this path with Solid Power,” said Frank Weber, Member of the Board of Management BMW AG, Development. “Together we have developed a 20 Ah all solid-state cell that is absolutely outstanding in this field.”
Solid Power is currently producing 20 ampere hour (Ah) multi-layer all solid-state batteries on the company’s continuous roll-to-roll production line, which exclusively utilizes industry standard lithium-ion production processes and equipment.
Both Ford and the BMW Group will receive full-scale 100 Ah cells for automotive qualification testing and vehicle integration beginning in 2022.
“Volta invested early in Solid Power when our team of energy and commercialization experts found they had not only promising technology, but also a fundamental focus on manufacturability. After all, a breakthrough battery will not find a place in the market if it can’t be produced at scale with acceptable costs,” said Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, CEO of Volta Energy Technologies. “The fact that Solid Power is already producing multi-layer all solid-state batteries using industry-standard automated commercial manufacturing equipment is why Volta is excited to ramp up its earlier investment. The company’s partnership with BMW and Ford will further accelerate the full commercialization of Solid Power’s batteries and position both car companies to be among the first to have EV’s on the road powered by safer, affordable, high-energy solid-state batteries.”