We Already Know Who Will Make Solid Power's Solid-State Cells: SK Innovation

SK Innovation is known both for its legal dispute with LGES (LG Energy Solution) and for never having had any fire issues that we are aware of. The Korean supplier will now also be known as the company that will mass-produce the solid-state batteries Solid Power is developing, which will benefit Kia, Ford, and BMW.
Dr. Lee Seongjun, CTO of SK Innovation (left) and Doug Campbell, CEO of Solid Power (right) Sign MoU and JDA for the Development of All-Solid-State Cells 6 photos
Photo: SK Innovation
Solid Power Solid-State BatteriesSolid Power Solid-State BatteriesSolid Power Solid-State BatteriesSolid Power Solid-State BatteriesSolid Power Solid-State Batteries
Kia is an old SK Innovation client. Ford and BMW are Solid Power investors, and Ford has recently made a deal to buy cells from the Korean supplier. In other words, when this solid-state solution is ready for the EV market, expect to see it in cars from one of these brands.

SK Innovation and Solid Power have signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) and a JDA (Joint Development Agreement) that will make the Korean supplier buy a $30 million stake in the American solid-state battery tech startup.

The JDA aims to develop a new cell that is based on the NMC (nickel, manganese, and cobalt) chemistry for the cathode and uses a high-content silicon anode. Solid Power has disclosed that its solid-state platform can be used in regular battery factories with minor changes. That would avoid new investments in a new plant to be able to manufacture these new cells: the current machinery can deal with them.

The goal is to develop a safer battery that delivers at least 930 Wh/l. That represents 30% more energy density than the best lithium-ion cells currently available. Although that’s a considerable gain, it is below those that could be achieved with a lithium metal anode.

The main advantages this approach offers relate to production costs and to the fact that cells with a solid-state electrolyte are naturally safer and less prone to thermal runaways. If SK Innovation and Solid Power manage to produce these cells fast enough, they can become a competitive advantage until lithium metal batteries can be mass-produced.

Compared to what we have today, 30% more energy-dense cells for similar prices would be a significant competitive advantage, even if temporary. QuantumScape is dedicated to a lithium metal approach, for example. When and if it delivers its solution is what will determine if SK Innovation’s bet on Solid Power’s solution will pay off – and for how long.
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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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