SK Innovation ties up with Solid Power to develop high performance all-solid-state batteries

By Lim Chang-won Posted : October 28, 2021, 12:50 Updated : October 28, 2021, 12:50

[Gettyimages Bank]

SEOUL -- SK Innovation, the parent company of a major electric vehicle battery maker in South Korea, has forged a partnership with Solid Power to develop high-performance and commercially viable all-solid-state batteries. The South Korean company would invest $30 million to acquire a stake in the American producer of all-solid-state batteries, which are seen as a next-generation power source for electric vehicles.

Solid electrolytes are nonflammable and more stable. Solid-state batteries can have a higher energy density than lithium-ion batteries and enable faster charging, higher voltage and longer cycle life. However, challenges to widespread adoption include energy and power density, durability, material costs, sensitivity and stability. Sulfide-based solid-state batteries use lithium metal as anode material to enable high energy density and safety.

SK Innovation (SKI) and Solid Power would use nickel, cobalt, manganese (NCM) cathode materials and high-content silicon anode materials to produce all-solid-state batteries with high energy density which is 33 percent higher than that of commonly used lithium-ion batteries. They would validate that Solid Power’s all-solid-state-cells can be manufactured on existing lithium-ion battery manufacturing equipment to secure price competitiveness and speed up mass production.

South Korean battery makers have tried to produce efficient and high-end batteries, such as NCM. The proportion of nickel is high so that battery producers can save costs and extend the driving range. Cobalt, an expensive rare-earth element widely used in lithium-ion batteries, is vulnerable to sudden price fluctuations. Nickel is cheaper than cobalt.

Through its partnership with Solid Power, SKI saId the company can establish a strong foothold in the all-solid-state battery market. "SK Innovation’s battery business is expanding the industrial ecosystem by developing technologies and battery products that deliver the safest and best performance," CTO Lee Seong-jun said in a statement on October 28.

Solid Power's sulfide solid electrolyte powers a flexible platform that can enable high-content silicon and lithium metal in the anode paired with cathodes. Combined with a lithium metal anode, the conversion type cathode could remove cobalt and nickel from the cathode and drastically decrease cathode active materials costs. The company is ready to begin production of a 20 Ah high-content silicon anode cell.

"The partnership with SK Innovation is designed to validate that Solid Power's all-solid-state production processes are scalable and compatible with existing lithium-ion production technology," said Solid Power CEO Doug Campbell. Solid Power will leverage plants owned by SKI's battery subsidiary, SK On, to produce all-solid-state batteries.
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