QuantumScape sets up pilot plant for solid-state batteries

The solid-state battery specialist and Volkswagen partner QuantumScape has announced in the context of the announcement of its business figures that it will build a pilot plant in San José, California. Called QS-0, the plant is expected to be capable of producing over 100,000 units of solid-state cells per year.

QuantumScape also says that a long-term lease for a second building is expected to be signed in the second half of this year. This will enable the company to also produce production-ready cells on-site from 2023. Initially, however, the purpose of the facility is to create further capacity for the company’s development work. In addition to the production of cell samples, QuantumScape mentions the development of a new generation of production tools as a goal.

The plan is to “produce batteries for hundreds of battery-electric test vehicles per year” in San José in the future, the report on the business figures says. “This will allow us to provide early cells for VW and other automotive partners and explore non-automotive applications.” In the current year alone, QuantumScape plans to raise between $230 million and $290 million (about €190 million to €240 million) to continue development of its solid-state battery cells and build the QS-0 fab. The company has recently received fresh capital through its IPO and last summer through an investment of 200 million euros from Volkswagen, among others. The Wolfsburg-based company now owns a third of the Californian battery company.

While QuantumScape remained silent about its technology for a long time, the company presented performance data of prototype cells for the first time in December 2020. Since then, it has become a little clearer where the journey is headed: According to the American company, the technology can help improve the range of electric cars by up to 80 per cent compared to today’s lithium-ion cells.

The published results with single-layer pouch cells suggest that QuantumScape’s battery can be charged to 80 per cent capacity in 15 minutes. Alongside this, the developer promises a remaining battery capacity of more than 80 per cent after 800 cycles, which means that “hundreds of thousands of kilometres can be covered”. In addition, the solid-state battery is said to be extremely fireproof and to function over a wide temperature continuum without a major drop in performance – even in cold temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees.

According to QuantumScape, it has succeeded in optimising the lithium metal solid-state battery through ten years of development work in such a way that all aspects from high energy density, fast charging capability and long service life to safety and realistic operating temperature are guaranteed. Until now, the low cycle stability has been considered a major weakness of solid-state batteries. The core of the QuantumScape technology is a ceramic separator, which is supposed to remedy exactly this. In addition, the solid-state battery does not have a classic anode. This is formed from pure lithium metal as soon as the battery is charged.

According to the Californian company, the cells tested were single-layer pouch cells with “thick cathodes” (>3mAh/cm2), which are analogous to the cathodes of conventional batteries. During the presentation of the test results, company boss Jagdeep Singh said that further development work will consist of converting the single-layer cells into multi-layer cells and then preparing them for mass production. This should start in the second half of 2024 with the help of Volkswagen. The Wolfsburg company will then have the right to become the first customer for the new batteries based on solid-state technology.



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