Solid state battery manufacturing likely to be near EV factories
Solid state lithium-ion batteries (LiB) have been touted as one of the technologies that can perform much better than the current generation of LiBs that use liquid electrolytes.
Batteries with solid state electrolytes were first developed in the 1970s for use in pacemakers.
This was followed by the claimed discovery of a sulphide-based material in 2011 by researchers from Toyota and the Tokyo Institute of Technology that has the same ionic conductivity of a liquid electrolyte.
They subsequently doubled the ionic conductivity five years later, which along with other innovations has fuelled research and investments into new categories of materials that can increase the energy densities of current LiBs by as much as three times.
Car manufacturers are clearly interested in solid state LiBs to power their electric vehicles (EVs).
Besides Volkswagen-backed QuantumScape, Ford, Samsung and Hyundai have invested in Solid Power while Renault, Mitsubishi and Nissan invested in Ionic Materials.
Separately, Samsung has newly developed solid-state batteries based on argyrodite electrolyte.
So just where will solid state LiBs be produced once research bears fruits?
LiB manufacturing is currently dominated by Japan, China and South Korea though the US and European countries are also starting to build battery plants close to their respective markets.
IDTechEx Research believes solid state LiBs can provide an opportunity to reshuffle the supply chain with the new active materials, components, manufacturing methods and know-how.
Germany has already set aside €1bn ($1.6bn) to support a consortium looking to produce electric car battery cells and plans to fund a research facility to develop next-generation solid-state LiBs.
A 30-month collaborative project is also underway in the UK to develop a solid state LiB for EVs and establish a pre-pilot line for the technology.
Asia is also in on the game with the Japanese government establishing in May 2018 the Consortium for Lithium-Ion Battery Technology and Evaluation Center research entity to push forward with research into solid-state batteries.
Additionally, South Korean battery manufacturers SK Innovation, LG Chem and Samsung SDI are also promoting joint research on next-generation battery technologies include solid state LiBs, while US companies have attracted investment from Asian and European battery vendors, carmakers and venture capitals.
IDTechEx added that further consolidation and partnerships were likely with manufacturing sites expected to be located near EV application markets.