Strong state battery techniques have lengthy been thought of the following breakthrough in battery expertise, with a number of startups vying to be the primary to commercialization. Automakers have been among the high buyers within the expertise, every of them looking for the sting that may make their electrical automobiles safer, sooner and with elevated vary.
Ford Motor Firm and BMW Group have put their cash on battery expertise firm Strong Energy.
The Louisville, Colorado-based SSB developed mentioned Monday its newest $130 million Sequence B funding spherical was led by Ford and BMW, the most recent sign that the 2 OEMs see SSBs powering the way forward for transportation. Underneath the funding, Ford and BMW are equal fairness house owners and firm representatives will be a part of Strong Energy’s board.
Strong Energy acquired further funding within the spherical from Volta Power Applied sciences, the enterprise capital agency spun out of the U.S. Division of Power’s Argonne Nationwide Laboratory.
Strong state batteries are so named as a result of they lack a liquid electrolyte, as Mark Harris explained in an ExtraCrunch article earlier this 12 months. Liquid electrolyte options are often flammable and vulnerable to overheating, so SSBs are thought of to be typically safer. The true worth of SSBs versus their lithium-ion counterparts is the power density. Strong Energy says its batteries can present as a lot as a 50% to 100% enhance in power density in comparison with rechargeable batteries. Theoretically, electrical automobiles with extra power dense batteries can journey longer distances on a single cost.
This newest spherical of funding will assist Strong Energy increase its manufacturing to supply battery cells with the corporate’s highest ampere hour (Ah) output but. Underneath separate joint growth agreements with Ford and BMW, it’ll ship to the OEMs 100 Ah cells for testing and automobile integration from 2022.
Till this level, the corporate has been manufacturing cells with 2 Ah and 10 Ah output. “A whole bunch” of two Ah battery cells have been validated by Ford and BMW late final 12 months, Strong Energy mentioned in an announcement. In the meantime, it’s at present producing 20 Ah solid-state batteries on a pilot foundation with customary lithium-ion gear.
Versus the 20 Ah pilot-scale cells – that are composed of 22-layers at 9×20 cm – these 100 Ah cells may have a bigger footprint and much more layers, Strong Energy spokesman Will McKenna instructed TechCrunch. (‘Layers’ refers back to the variety of double-sided cathodes, McKenna defined – so the 20 Ah cell has 22 cathodes and 22 anodes, with an all-solid electrolyte separator in-between every, all in a single cell.)
In contrast to Strong Energy’s manufacturing, conventional lithium-ion batteries should endure electrolyte filling and biking of their manufacturing processes. Strong Energy says these further steps accounts for five% and 30% of capital expenditure in a typical GWh-scale lithium-ion facility.
This isn’t the primary time Strong Energy has landed investments from the automakers. The corporate’s $20 million Sequence A in 2018 attracted capital from BMW and Ford, in addition to Samsung, Hyundai, Volta and others. It’s a part of a brand new wave of corporations which have attracted the eye of OEMs. Different notable examples embody Volkswagen-backed QuantumScape and Normal Motors, which has put its money on SES.
Ford can be independently researching superior battery applied sciences and is planning on opening a $185 million R&D battery lab, the company said last week.