Solid State Battery: “The Major Discoveries are Done”


APR 24 2015 BY STAFF 37

Claims of battery breakthroughs are a dime a dozen. Normally such claims contain caveats such as “almost”, “soon”, “5-10 years” or they have undisclosed “challenges” to “overcome”.

Editor’s Note: This articles comes to InsideEVs by way of community member Joseph Bonham, who is also the automotive contributor at  Our thanks to Joseph for the interesting look into solid state batteries.

Amy Prieto, however, doesn’t seem to be using this language. She claims to have developed a low cost, non-toxic, easily scalable, three dimensional copper foam version of a Lithium-Ion battery with “power densities reaching  14,000 W/L while maintaining energy densities of 650 Wh/L.” Supposedly, it has no traditional separator, has long cycle life, charges quickly and doesn’t over heat. For our purposes here, her video pitch mentions applications in “hybrids” and her website references “EVs”.

This earned her a spot on the radio program Burn, and an article in Popular Mechanics which writes:

Prieto can’t share the names of the strategic partners that are showing interest, but she sees her battery’s ultrastable chemistry as a perfect initial match for the military’s unmanned submersibles, which can’t use standard lithium-ion packs because of the fire hazard. And the company plans to get its 3D solid-state cells into a limited number of consumer applications by 2016.

These are the best-case scenarios, of course, and assume breakthroughs that have nothing to do with science. “You can imagine why this was challenging to pitch to investors in the beginning,” Prieto says. “On the one hand they want transformational approaches. But it is very hard to quantify, in terms of time and resources, how long it will take to make a major discovery.” Now there’s no more guessing. “I’m really excited,” Prieto says. “The major discoveries are done.”

This same article says that they have “cracked the final problem.”

Perhaps this Colorado State University professor is just a really savvy salesperson. But she even has a “small pilot production line” that uses “highly modular manufacturing techniques” designed to teach companies how to try out the technology before diving into a full blown plant.

What’s your take? Is this Envia and high voltage Lithium-Ion 2.0 all over again?

Categories: Battery Tech


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37 Comments on "Solid State Battery: “The Major Discoveries are Done”"

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If they can pop this into a i-miev I will believe it. Other then that this a another story about someone who saw the unicorn battery.

Besides if we could tame this unicorn battery 650 would be six times more powerful then the i-miev’s existing battery. It would give the existing i-miev 372 miles.

I was getting 80-85 miles per charge in the city when I had my i-MiEV. A 500 mile range in an i-MiEV would be amusing… and not terribly comfortable. 😉

This battery will target performance PHEV more than pure EV, e.g. BMW i8. It has >20C discharge and claims high cycle life.

A 10kWh pack could power a 300hp motor, and you could have a small 50kW REx with it.

“…she sees her battery’s ultrastable chemistry as a perfect initial match for the military’s unmanned submersibles…”

Translation: “This is going to be so expensive that even the military will only use it for special applications.”

Even still, I’ll be keenly interested to know if they can actually get the tech to work reliably. If they can, then there’s at least the possibility that future developments can bring the price down far enough for use in EVs.

I read it the same way. It might be real, the video is actually decently technical, for a video, but it’s probably very expensive.

How do you even make copper foam, anyway? Also, it might be non-toxic, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to recycle. You get copper foam embedded in a polymer embedded in an anode material. How does end of life play out for this thing?

Sure, with time price may come down, and it may be recyclable with some process or other. Worth keeping an eye on, but it will be real when it’s real.

Lensman, that is incorrect translation. the correct translation is that only US military is so fool that it is espected that they are financing this vaporware.

Actually, she mentioned in talks that she had her lab try to use commercially relevant equipment as much as possible specifically to avoid having a boutique not-easy-to-manufacture product.

These solid-state batteries sound great in so many ways!

They have only one problem, that it is almost impossible to see how it could be possible to made genuine product.

It does not matter if it costs 20 000 dollars per kWh. We are just needing a sample product that can power e.g. flash light.

If this miracle device is really real, why does it only show up as a youtube video? If it were the real deal it would be a headline on the evening news. If someone perfected cold fusion, would the world just find it on youtube?

Your not going to try and use Rossi’s E-CAT as an example of “cartel’s keeping technology down” – That’s about as bad an example as mentioning Richard Weir and EEStor

Not saying there aren’t battery breakthoughts, and Chevon buying the GM NiMH battery patents, is indeed real and troublesome – But the ECat isn’t the example you want to use…

Think about Wal-Marters. They couldn’t give two s–ts about the “latest battery technology”. That’s why you won’t see it on the evening news.

Cold fusion, however, is not an energy storage device, but a energy creation device. That would interest Wal-Marters because the evening news would tell them their electricity bills could go down. (Of course, it wouldn’t…)

Funny you use Walmart shoppers as an example, because Walmart is a model company for solar adoption. They only do it in states where they lease the panels out, and buy back the power. Battery tech could change things in the states where they can’t (Florida, etc). Imagine Walmart going behind the meter, and politically advocating for the freedom to grid defect!

“The Major Discoveries are Done”
They said the same about the proton, the neutron and the electron…
and with the “India” discovered by Christopher Columbus…

The big problem could be the missing gravimetric energy density. It has no use in EVs if its small but super heavy, to overcome todays challenges, it has to be smaller lighter cheaper and faster chargeable. The power density is by far more impressive, if you could build a 100kwh EV with it, the Battery could supply power to electric motors with combined more than 2MW, thats more than 2500hp…
I just imagine the next Tesla roadster with 2000hp, killing of every petrol car, that competes in any kind of race.

Good point. Even the target application of “the military’s unmanned submersibles” speaks to this issue. Weight is practically a non-issue on boats (comparatively speaking, that is).

My guess is the “sticking point” is COST, with re-gen, weight isn’t a show stopper in cars – But COSTS drive just about ALL applications (except the military!)

Actually, getting a small size for the power source is even more important in an UUV (Unmanned Underwater Vehicle) than it is in a passenger car EV. In neither case is weight particularly important. The Tesla Model S does just fine with an approx. 1200 pound battery pack. Sure, EV automobile makers do make great efforts to reduce the weight of their vehicles, but a few hundred pounds more of batteries doesn’t affect the car’s performance any more than carrying a couple of passengers.

It hasn’t been that long since the Navy sponsored a contest for the best performance, highest volumetric specific energy (which means maximum energy stored in minimum space) in a power source suitable for its UUVs. Looks like they really are, or at least were, desperate for something better than they were using.

Have you never driven a small car? A single added passenger makes a noticeable difference to vehicle dynamics, notably acceleration and handling. Perhaps Americans are just so used to driving massively overpowered engines that they are unaware of how substantial a difference a couple hundred kilos makes to a car. Lexus got it.

They say 650Wh/L. Batteries tend to weigh about 2.25-2.5 kg/L. That would put this battery at around 260-280Wh/kg. Which is better than the cells in the model S.

The big upside to this battery would be at the pack level. With no need to heat/cool it or armor plate its container. It could still be above 200Wh/kg at the pack. Tesla is around 160wh/kg at the pack level.

Assuming they work, these will show up in consumer products first. Cars later. Dyson believes in them and plans to launch a range of products using solid state lithium with similar energy densities, so, while they may run into unexpected problems, they’re not unicorns.

We have very good reason to be skeptical. We see some sort of wide-eyed, vaguely worded announcement about a miracle breakthrough in battery tech about once a month these days. We often see articles on the subject which read like press releases, with no attempt to identify limitations in the tech, nor any attempt to point out what obstacles need to be overcome before the tech can go into commercial development.

I have no doubt that many or most of these announcements do represent some achievement in the lab, but so far none of these “miracle breakthroughs” has ever been developed into a commercial product.

“My my top advice really for anyone who says they’ve got some breakthrough technology is please send us a sample cell. Okay? Don’t send us PowerPoint. Just send one cell that works with all appropriate caveats. That would be great. That sorts out the nonsense and the claims that aren’t actually true. Talk is super cheap. The battery industry has to have more B.S. in it than any industry I’ve ever encountered. It’s insane.” — Elon Musk

Dyson has made, for them, a relatively small investment in a solid state start-up.

Much like GM and VW.

They are purchasing a lottery ticket; just in case.

Almost no statistics given… Number of recharges? Actual energy density….?

This seems like something that has been put together to get funding or investors.

Energy density a bit less than Tesla’s.
Reduced need for active cooling!
Specific energy unknown, but probably unspectacular.
Capable of high power!
It will be expensive, at least initially.

It ought to be useful for something, but not for EVs without further development.

Solid state batteries are the future of EVs.. (I’ve given up on Li-S for now, except for in aviation and military usage scenarios where it is very safe against Li-ion).

For comparison, other SSB companies have quoted power density at over 1,000 Wh/l and energy densities between 600-800Wh/kg. The big unknown is cycle life and whether or not they can cost-effectively manufacture the batteries!

A battery that has 1,000 Wh/kg and 1,000 Wh/l does us no good if its too expensive to manufacture.

Also, Go Rams!

I’ve got some land in south Florida for sale if anyone is interested….

A couple of things:

1. Without commenting on this or any other specific announcement, I am absolutely sure that some group, somewhere, is going to make a “holy crap!”-level battery breakthrough, more likely sooner (< 7 years) than later. There's simply far too much profit to be made for there to be a solution "out there" that remains undiscovered. And by breakthrough, I mean something that ticks off all the check boxes for energy, power, lifetime, weight, volume, lifecycle cost, etc. Of course, even if that breakthrough happens today it will still take some time for us to test it, figure out how to use it, and get it in to production. It likely wouldn't show up a mass market EV/PHEV for at least 2 or 3 years.

2. I really, REALLY wish some university or corporate or government lab would make said breakthrough. I'm getting quite sick of waiting. If InsideEVs or their vast army of minions can do something to hurry that process along, it would be most appreciated.

What is the Wh/kg?

about 300 Wh/kg.

This is very much a funding/marketing presser for a University research project trying to find an actual manufacturing company to take this into production.

Meanwhile, we know that Panasonic and other companies have a historic record in recent years of cutting cost per kWh on commodity cells by 14% per year. This effectively cuts the price on commodity cells by 50% each 5 years.

Really cool batteries might make it into the market, but it is a high risk bet. Meanwhile, the low risk bet seems to be Tesla’s approach of using commodity batteries, and just take advantage of those historic advances.