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Major solid-state EV battery developers granted millions in US government research funds

After $20 million from BMW, Solid Power now gets federal funding, too (image: Solid Power)
After $20 million from BMW, Solid Power now gets federal funding, too (image: Solid Power)
The US Department of Energy's EVs4ALL program, managed by its Advanced Research Projects Agency will be doling out $42 million in next generation battery research grants for 12 promising projects. Four of those grants will go to solid-state battery development carried out by US companies or educational institutions.

A solid-state battery technology that can be used in the frame of traditional lithium-ion (Li-ion) ternary batteries, Solid Power's fast-charging invention, as well as University of Maryland research that may lead to increased solid-state cells energy density and longevity, are among the projects funded by a new grant by the US Department of Energy.

In total, four solid-state battery undertakings will receive government funding, representing a third of the 12-pack of projects that the Energy Department will finance with the $42 million grant. The rest range from potassium and sodium battery technologies, to predictive simulations for failure rates:

  • 24M Technologies (Cambridge, MA) will develop low-cost and fast-charging sodium metal batteries with good low-temperature performance for EVs. 24M’s cell design will incorporate (1) its ultra-thick SemiSolid cathode made up of advanced cobalt-free, nickel-free sodium cathode active material, (2) an advanced wide-temperature, fast-charging electrolyte developed using machine learning and automated high-throughput screening technology, and (3) a sodium super ionic conductor. (Award amount: $3,198,085)
  • Ampcera (Tuscon, AZ) will develop a solid-state battery incorporating a thermally modulated cell technology (TMCT), developed by EC Power, that was used in conventional lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries to power buses during the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. The TMSSB comprises a high-capacity silicon anode and a high-voltage, nickel-rich lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide cathode. Combining the TMCT with a high ion conducting solid-state electrolyte will enable rapid charging at ambient conditions. The TMCT also enables cold startup times of less than a minute at ambient temperatures of -20°C, making the TMSSB advantageous in cold climates. (Award amount: $2,120,120)
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, CO) will assess data and parameters representing the risks of next generation cells. The project will establish an understanding of failure mechanisms, reaction pathways, failure modes and effects, revised testing standards, and new capabilities and tools to help de-risk adoption of next-generation cells for commercial applications. (Award amount: $3,425,000)
  • The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH) will scale its prototype high-power battery technology that can tolerate rapid charging while demonstrating longevity far beyond the current state-of-the-art Li-ion cells. (Award amount: $3,876,363)
  • Project K (Palo Alto, CA) is developing and commercializing a potassium-ion battery, which operates similarly to Li-ion batteries. The fundamental properties of the potassium-ion system allow it to charge much faster than lithium-ion batteries while also enabling operation at reduced temperatures. (Award amount: $2,587,618)
  • Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM) will develop a novel predictive simulation/modeling and testing framework to evaluate advanced battery material and cell safety at an early stage. (Award amount: $3,700,000)
  • Solid Power Operating (Thornton, CO) will develop a 3D-structured Li metal anode and novel sulfur (S) composite cathode to enable high-energy and fast-charging EV battery cells. (Award amount: $5,600,000)
  • South 8 Technologies (San Diego, CA) will develop high-power Li-ion battery cells with the capacity to charge rapidly using a novel liquefied gas (LiGas) electrolyte technology. South 8 Technologies will harness the inherent safety, high power, and low temperature advantages of the LiGas electrolyte in combination with a high energy, low cost, and cobalt-free lithium nickel manganese oxide (LNMO) cathode. (Award amount: $3,152,000)
  • Tyfast Energy (San Diego, CA) will use a new combination of electrode materials and electrolyte chemistry to enable a high-energy density, ultrafast-charging battery with a long cycle life. (Award amount: $2,823,199)
  • University of Maryland (College Park, MD) will increase the charge/discharge-rate capability, energy density, and operating temperature window of solid-state lithium metal batteries. (Award amount: $4,852,733)
  • Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA) will develop EV batteries using cobalt- and nickel-free cathodes, fast-charging and all-weather electrolytes, and coal-derived fast-charging and high-capacity anodes. By eliminating the use of cobalt and nickel in cathodes, the cathode cost will be reduced by 50%. Additionally, using a coal/carbon/silicon anode will resolve environmental issues of coal waste and reduce anode cost by 75% compared with a graphite anode. (Award amount: $2,945,000)
  • Zeta Energy (Houston, TX) will create a new anode with a high Li content that is also highly accessible and rechargeable. The complementary physical and chemical features of the cathode and anode will enable transformational high charge rates and long-term stability while also minimizing performance losses at low temperatures. (Award amount: $4,000,000)

The biggest grant here is for Solid Power which also got $20 million from its partner BMW recently for licencing the cell design and electrodes production, while its custom solid-state sulfide electrolyte that remains Solid Power's intellectual property, will be delivered separately. It's precisely the solid-state electrolyte production ramp-up which may need the $5.6 million in government grants that the Energy Department is now doling out to Solid Power.

Previously, the US Department of Energy also gave $11 million to the University of Michigan's solid-state battery research breakthrough using ceramic ions. Coupled with the current round of federal battery technology bets skewed towards solid-state battery research and development, it seems that the US government is willing to give American companies the funding needed to catch up to the Chinese battery juggernauts that are already at the stage of commercializing such nascent battery technologies.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 01 > Major solid-state EV battery developers granted millions in US government research funds
Daniel Zlatev, 2023-01-12 (Update: 2023-01-12)