The hype is strong around solid-state batteries as it is believed to be the next step after Li-ion batteries, but no one has really brought them to volume production.
Now, a Chinese startup says that it started a production line of solid-state batteries that will lead to volume production.
Qing Tao Energy Development Co, a startup that spun off of Tsinghua University, one of the highest-ranking technical universities in China, claims to have deployed the first solid-state battery production line in the country.
Solid-state batteries are thought to be a lot safer than common Li-ion cells and have more potential for higher energy density.
Nan Cewen, the head of the startup, says that they invested 1 billion yuan (144 million U.S. dollars) in the production line, according to Chinese media.
The production line, located in the city of Kunshan, East China, has a capacity of 100 MWh per year and they plan to ramp it up to 700 MWh by 2020.
Right now, they are using the batteries for “special equipment and high-end digital products”, but Nan says that they are talking to “a number of large automobile manufacturers” about using their solid-state batteries in electric vehicles.
The executive claims that they have achieved an energy density of “over 400 Wh/kg” compared to the new generation Li-ion battery cells having a capacity of 250 to 300 Wh/kg.
As usual, it’s important to be skeptical when companies announce “battery breakthroughs” because they rarely amount to anything.
But in this case, they are actually bringing them to production.
Solid-state batteries are thought to be a lot safer than common li-ion cells and have more potential for higher energy density, but they also have limitations like temperature ranges and electrode current density.
No one has managed to produce them in volume at an attractive price point yet.
We don’t know Qing Tao Energy’s price point and to be fair, they are not quite at volume production.
100 MWh is a decent capacity, but it would result in less than 2,000 long-range electric vehicles per year.
I’d file this in “interesting development”, but it definitely doesn’t mean that solid-state is taking over just now.
Toyota, Fisker, Hyundai, BMW, and others all have big plans for the technology with targeted production from supposedly this year to 2030. Bosch had big plans for the technology and made significant investments for commercialization until it gave up on it earlier this year.