Ford Teams With Battery Maker Solid Power to Develop Next-Gen Solid State Batteries

Recently, EV startup Fisker Automotive confirmed that it’s upcoming electric SUV will not feature solid-state batteries but it seems like Ford Motor Co still wants to work on this idea.

The American automaker is quite keen on expanding its electric portfolio and recently disclosed plans of introducing the all-new electric Transit van in Europe by the year 2021.

To fast-track its electrification plan, Ford invested in and partnered with Solid Power, a developer of next-generation of all solid-state batteries (ASSB), to jointly batteries for the company’s next-generation electric vehicles.

Solid Power is working on its first roll-to-roll, fully automated production facility, which it hopes will be fully operational sometime in the second quarter of this year. The company will manufacture solid-state batteries designed specifically for Ford’s automotive requirements.

This is not the first time Solid Power has teamed up with a mainstream car manufacturer. In 2017, the company announced that it has partnered with German carmaker BMW to develop solid-state batteries for the company’s high-performance electric vehicles.

Solid state batteries have several advantages over conventional lithium-ion battery packs, most importantly their enhanced safety characteristics. ASSSB packs are superior to lithium-ion counterparts because they do not require flammable liquid electrolytes. Ford confirmed that enhanced safety characteristics were a motivating factor in Ford’s investment in Solid Power.

Solid Power said that it hopes to achieve up to a 50 percent increase in cell level energy with its solid state battery packs as compared to lithium-ion cells. To accomplish this, the company plans on using metallic lithium anodes and state-of-the-art cathodes.

By enabling a metallic lithium anode, Solid Power says it can deliver twice the energy density compared to the best available rechargeable batteries. In addition, removing volatile and flammable liquid electrolytes results in a inherently safer battery with a simplified cell architecture.

Solid Power also plans on offering cost reductions at a system level, by decreasing the need for engineering solutions, mainly related to battery cooling, which are vital for the safe operation of lithium-ion battery packs. Solid-state battery packs are capable of operating with simple thermal management setups. These cells will be cheaper to manufacture than lithium-ion battery packs.

Using Solid Power’s roll-to-roll automated production facility, it is possible that the company will be able to manufacture these solid-state battery packs in large enough volumes to supply the automotive industry.