The future of electric vehicle batteries is so exciting. After all, what could be more exciting than what will power the future?
Solid-state batteries have been touted as the successor to lithium-ion batteries for decades, offering greater energy density and faster-charging speeds in a smaller footprint, as well as increased safety because there is no risk of explosion or fire.
However, performance limitations, namely in kinetics and mass-energy transfer, mean solid-state batteries have never been a serious contender.
Despite decades of research, no one has commercialised a solid-state battery and plenty of companies have abandoned them. The solid-state graveyard includes Fisker, who got to 90% development but abandoned the final 10%.
Solid-state batteries are tantalisingly close
Factorial Energy, based in Woburn, Massachusetts, is developing a solid-state battery for electric cars and signed up Kia and Hyundai last month as investors.
Last week, they took another step by signing up Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis. With these new investors, Factorial Energy has enough financial muscle to increase research into its solid-state battery and commercialise it.
“These partnerships will accelerate our ability to commercialize our core technology,” said Factorial Energy CEO Siyu Huang, Ph.D. “With our new partners we can develop batteries that not only enable safer and longer driving range vehicles, but that are also compatible with conventional lithium-ion battery manufacturing environments.”
Mercedes-Benz plans to use the batteries in “a limited number of vehicles as part of a small series within the next five years”.
This is an impressive and bold aim from Mercedes-Benz, beating Nissan’s aim to get solid-state batteries in vehicles by 2028.
Factorial Electrolyte System Technology
Factorial’s battery uses Factorial Electrolyte System Technology (FEST), which has a solid electrolyte and high-voltage and high-capacity electrodes. It promises to unlock faster-charging speeds and greater energy density, unlocking more range.
Solid-state batteries are an area of major research today as companies look to move away from lithium-ion batteries. Solid-state batteries have a higher energy density, longer lifespan, and increased safety in a smaller package.
Factorial Energy’s battery is said to be compatible with integration into existing lithium-ion manufacturing infrastructure. Manufacturers can adapt most conventional lithium-ion battery manufacturing lines and equipment to produce it, speeding up and simplifying adoption.
Crucially, Factorial’s solid-state cell uses high quantities of nickel, rather than cobalt, which is mined in unstable regions of the world.
It seems we are not far away from functioning solid-state batteries that work and are reliable, and your next electric car could well have one.
Lithium-ion batteries are the most common batteries used in electric vehicles because they are cheap and easy to manufacture. However, they have limited energy density and voltage potential. Solid-state batteries will be a significant improvement, although the technology is at least four years away from full commercialisation.
A few weeks ago, Tesla bought SilLion for its silicon battery anode patent. SilLion was working on a high energy density battery chemistry based on a silicon anode and nickel cathode, which eliminates the need for cobalt.
Another future power source for electric vehicles is graphene EV batteries, with graphene finding applications in nearly all battery chemistries.