The US American battery startup Solid Power has been awarded up to $12.5 Million to develop nickel- and cobalt-free solid-state battery cells. Additionally, the company has unveiled cell safety and performance data.
The funding was awarded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) for a multi-phase, multi-year research contract to develop nickel- and cobalt-free all-solid-state battery cells. Solid Power expects to receive up to $12.5M to complete the project throughout the project’s runtime.
For the IARPA Robust Energy Sources for Intelligence Logistics in Extreme Novel and Challenging Environments (RESILIENCE) project, Solid Power will collaborate with the University of Maryland to develop a nano-scale iron sulfide pyrite (FeS2) cathode, which is largely comprised of iron and sulfur, eliminating some of the rare-earth metals currently required.
Solid Power has stated the specific objective “to produce multi-layer cells meeting intelligence application needs for high energy density, high power density, long calendar life, quiet operation, and robustness to extreme environmental conditions”. This will build on Solid Power’s advanced cathode formulation, which has the potential to cut cathode active material cost by over 90 per cent.
“The transition to a pyrite cathode could provide a massive cost advantage over traditional lithium-ion batteries at the cell level, while providing very high specific energy that can serve a range of applications,” said Doug Campbell, CEO and co-founder of Solid Power. “The IARPA RESILIENCE program is a natural fit for Solid Power given our history working with this chemistry.”
In addition to the new research funding, Solid Power also took the moment on stage to unveil their gathered high-content silicon cell safety and performance data. Solid Power’s 2 Ah high-content silicon cells demonstrated “benign failures” when subjected to several abuse scenarios, including nail penetration, overcharging and external short-circuiting. Overheating or even flammability was not observed in any of the batteries during the various tests.
“The automotive industry has seen very recent examples of lithium-ion battery safety concerns, resulting in danger to vehicle occupants and expensive electric vehicle recalls,” said Doug Campbell, CEO and co-founder of Solid Power. “Our all-solid-state cells could reduce the risk of EV fires and lead to significant battery pack cost reductions by removing the flammable liquid and gel electrolyte.”
Performance data was also gathered on the batteries, with analysis taking place on the categies high-energy, long life cycle and fast charging. Here, Solid Power demonstrated the ability to reach a stack-level specific energy of ~350 Wh/kg while also achieving 750 cycles with 80% capacity retention in terms of high power usage. The life cycle assessment achieved over 1,000 cycles at both 45C and room temperature with greater than 80% capacity retention. Finally, the fast charging tests recorded 650 cycles with a 2C-rate fast charge occurring during every fifth cycle in near room-temperature conditions.
The testing period has not ended yet, as Solid Power specifies: “We are now working to replicate these initial results in larger format, production-line produced cells,” said Josh Buettner-Garrett, Chief Technology Officer at Solid Power.
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