Accelerating solid-state battery commercialisation

Engineer Live News Desk
ION's manufacturing facility in Beltsville, MD

With more energy density than today’s lithium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries (SSBs) have the potential to double electric vehicle (EV) driving range while being safer and quicker to charge. However, there are still important engineering challenges to solve before full-scale commercialisation of SSBs is achieved.

A new $40 million commercialisation initiative involving fast-charging SSB manufacturer Ion Storage Systems could bring this one step closer, though. The company will receive $20 million from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) as part of a three-year $40 million partnership.

Working with ceramics, glass and material supplier Saint-Gobain and semiconductor process and quality control firm KLA, Ion plans to dramatically accelerate the commercialisation of its high-performing anode-less SSB. The $20 million from the ARPA-E SCALEUP (Seeding Critical Advances for Leading Energy Technologies with Untapped Potential) programme will be matched by another $20 million in private funds.

“Ion and our world-class partners have reinvented ceramic membrane manufacturing for high throughput, low cost and low emissions production of our safe, high energy SSB,” said Dr. Gregor Hitz, Co-founder and CTO of Ion. “We are proud to be working hand-in-hand toward gigawatt-hour production and delivery of a market-leading EV battery solution. ARPA-E’s Range programme initiated the development of this technology in 2013 and we’re honoured to be partnering with them again through SCALEUP to expand the impact of our technology and accelerate electrification of a greener energy economy.”

The ARPA-E SCALEUP programme builds on the agency’s primary research and development focus to support the scaling of “disruptive new technologies across the full spectrum of energy applications.” The goal of the programme is to help these technologies transition from proof-of-concept prototypes to commercially scalable and deployable versions of the technology. In this scenario, the ARPA-E funding will enable Ion to manufacture high-performing, EV-scale SSB cells in the US with domestically sourced materials while expanding on what is already among the largest SSB manufacturing facilities in the US.

“Accelerating the widespread adoption of electric vehicles requires increasing driving range, reducing costs, and improving safety,” said Dr. Evelyn Wang, ARPA-E Director. “Ion Storage Systems – through an earlier ARPA-E programme – focused on working toward these goals, and now, through SCALEUP, the company will accelerate domestic manufacturing of next generation solid-state, high-power-density lithium-metal batteries, based on ION’s proprietary ceramic electrolyte manufacturing technology.”

The project will include sustainability-focused cell design and manufacturing milestones, with planned innovations offering the opportunity for the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions on the order of tens of thousands of metric tons of CO2 per GWh relative to Li-ion.

“Electrification is one of the critical grand challenges in the global transformation that the world needs to reduce emissions,” added Jeffrey Mydlarz, Vice President and General Manager at Saint-Gobain. “At Saint-Gobain Ceramics, together with key innovators, we are excited to engineer a better, safer and greener world.”

“KLA is pleased to bring industry-leading inspection and metrology equipment and experience to support Ion and next-gen battery development,” said Oreste Donzella, Executive Vice President, Electronics, Packaging and Components at KLA Corporation. “We are proud to partner with Ion as a key supplier of process solutions to enble efficient ramp-up and enhanced manufacturing success of SSBs. KLA is committed to leveraging the established methodologies and standards from the semi-industry to address the challenges associated with the inflection of next-gen batteries.”

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