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QuantumScape: what the solid state batteries promise us with which this ‘startup’ wants to revolutionize the electric car

QuantumScape’s financial backing is very strong. Bill Gates, Volkswagen and Continental are some of the investors who are betting on this startup American, reflecting that he is holding something juicy enough to attract their attention. And your money. And yes, it does seem to have it: a battery technology that promises to change the rules of the electric car.

Jagdeep Singh, the CEO of this company, has recently confirmed that they will go public during the last quarter of this year with an initial valuation of $ 4.3 billion, which would place QuantumScape as the first US battery manufacturer to carry out this operation during the last ten years and in full electric car consolidation.

Among other peculiarities, solid-state batteries use a solid electrolyte, and not in a liquid or gel state, like current lithium batteries.

In any case, the true engine of this company, and the reason why it is worth looking at it, is your battery technology. Lithium is still the central chemical element in the batteries you propose, but, unlike the lithium-ion batteries that we use massively today, it uses an electrolyte in a solid state, and not in a liquid state. A boat may not seem like a big deal soon, but this change unleashes huge advantages that, on paper, will make a difference in the battery market.

Solid State Batteries: What They Are And Why They Are So Attractive On Paper

Lithium-ion batteries and solid-state batteries have a lot in common. In fact, the latter they are an evolution of the first, which use a technology that barely leaves us room to continue developing its features. Our colleagues at Motorpasión explain in great detail in the article that I link here how they work, but it is enough for us to know them briefly to identify what it is that allows them to aspire to make a difference.

Schemabatteries

Each of the cells in lithium-ion batteries is made up of two metal or composite electrodes that are immersed in a conductive liquid. The latter is the electrolyte, and it usually uses a lithium salt that contains the ions that are necessary to promote reversible chemical reaction that takes place between the cathode and the anode, which are the electrodes.

Solid-state batteries use the same principle of operation as lithium-ion batteries, but use an electrolyte made of ceramic, glass, or other materials.

Solid-state batteries use the same principle of operation as lithium-ion batteries, but, as we have seen, they use a solid electrolyte rather than a liquid one. Some research teams have been working on this battery technology for decades and have proposed electrolytes of ceramics, glass or nanowires of gold and manganese, among other exotic materials, but until now nobody has been successful because, among other challenges, the resulting batteries they have to be very stable and not run the risk of catching fire.

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We do not know what materials are used by QuantumScape in the electrodes and electrolyte of its battery cells because, of course, their composition is part of the intellectual property of this company. What we do know is that Jagdeep Singh and his collaborators claim to have developed solid-state cells with far superior performance to which we are offered the most advanced lithium ion batteries we currently have.

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These are the assets that, according to QuantumScape, its battery technology has:

  • Its energy density is significantly higher than that offered by lithium ion batteries. Solid state ones touch 500 Wh / kg, while lithium-ion batteries are below 300 Wh / kg
  • Increasing energy density should have a direct impact on the range of electric vehicles, which, according to QuantumScape, will increase 50%
  • The battery charge will be up to six times faster. According to this startup in just 15 minutes it will be possible to bring a completely discharged battery to 80% of the total charge
  • Its lifespan it will be longer thanks to elimination of capacity loss caused by anode degradation
  • Solid state batteries should be more stable and secure than lithium-ion because solid separator elements cannot ignite
  • According to QuantumScape its production it will be cheaper and will have a lesser impact on the final price of electric cars

This is the challenge that QuantumScape still has ahead

Volkswagen hopes to have its first electric cars equipped with the solid-state batteries designed by QuantumScape ready in 2025. However, for this to be possible, the researchers of the latter company have yet to bring to fruition a challenge that we cannot ignore: the scaling of your technology.

And it is that they have to transfer the innovations that according to them have proven to work well in the solid state cells produced in a laboratory to the multilayer batteries that are going to be massively manufactured and used in a real use scenario. And during this process complications can arise. Still, the involvement of a company as experienced in the automotive sector as Volkswagen encourages us to keep track of what QuantumScape may have in store for us in the future.

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