Quantumscape Races To Deliver Its Breakthrough Solid State Battery For EV’s

Highlights :

  • Jagdeep Singh led Quantumscape is one of the more promising battery startups.
  • The firm’s solid state lithium batteries promise to upend the EV battery market, if things go to plan.

QuantumScape founder and CEO Jagdeep Singh continues to be optimistic about his firms progress, even as the firm’s stock price has been beaten down this year. the firm, which listed after merging with a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company). The firm’s biggest shareholder is Volkswagen AG with a 26% stake.

Singh highlighted a key milestone the firm hit a week back. “We now have 10-layer cells. That’s a big deal because while the single layer cells demonstrate that the chemistry works and we can make these solid state cells and the performance is better than has ever been reported before, and starts to close the gap with combustion engines. We needed to stack those into multiple layers to make bigger cells. The results make us feel like we are going to be able to hit our targets in 2024 and 2025 timeframe to commercialize,” he added.

Quantumscape was started in 2010 from from Stanford University, with its early backers including Bill Gates-backed venture funds. The JV with VW to produce solid-state battery cells, starting in 2024, for VW’s electric vehicles was its big break, launching it into the limelight and the chance of an entry into the big league.

Quantumscape’s main proposition is its work on a solid-state lithium anode rechargeable batteries. These batteries could increase the range of EVs by as much as 50%, reduce charging times to under 15 minutes, while also making EVs safer by avoiding the use of flammable liquids.

A solid-state lithium-metal battery is a battery that replaces the polymer separator used in conventional lithium-ion batteries with a solid-state separator. The replacement of the separator enables the carbon or silicon anode used in conventional lithium-ion batteries to be replaced with a lithium-metal anode. The lithium metal anode is more energy dense than conventional anodes, allowing the battery to store a greater amount of energy in the same volume. Some solid-state designs use excess lithium to form the anode, but the QuantumScape design is ‘anode-free’ in that the battery is manufactured anode free in a discharged state, and the anode forms in situ on the first charge.

Thus, solid-state lithium-metal battery technology has the potential to increase the cell energy density (by eliminating the carbon or carbon-silicon anode), reduce charge time (by eliminating the charge bottleneck resulting from the need to have lithium diffuse into the carbon particles in conventional lithium-ion cell), prolong life (by eliminating capacity fade that results from the unwanted chemical side reaction between the carbon and liquid electrolyte in conventional lithium-ion cells), improve safety (by eliminating the combustible organic porous separator and organic anolyte material in conventional cells) and lower cost (by eliminating the anode materials and manufacturing costs).

Founder and CEO Jagdeep Singh asserts that they remain on course with their development.

Singh claims that Volkswagen should receive prototypes of the batteries in 2022

In  December last year, Singh had shared test results for QuantumScape’s solid state battery. QuantumScape’s data showed its battery cell could charge up to 80% of capacity in 15 minutes. Further, it retains more than 80% of its capacity after 800 charging cycles, is non-combustable and boasts nearly double the energy density of high-end commercial lithium batteries.

In a presentation to investors in Oct’20, Quantumscape projected that its solid state battery will be commercially produced from two facilities QS-1 and QS-2, with an annual production capacity of 91GWh (910k vehicles). Under this scenario, the company estimates that they would be able to generate revenues of $6.4 billion and EBITDA of $1.6 billion (25% margins).

The firm’s biggest risk comes from other competitors working on the same tech, who might yet beat it to the market, or even deliver a better product.

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