Consortium Gets £2.7M To Develop Solid-State EV Batteries
Solid-state battery technology developer Ilika will lead an industry consortium funded with £2.7 million from the UK Automotive Transformation Fund and tasked with commercial development of the company’s Goliath SSB technology.
Ilika will lead a 16-month development project, alongside Mpac Group plc (Mpac) and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC), for the development of 1.5 MWh of commercial assembly capacity with the ability to deliver A-sample solid-state battery (SSB) pouch cells, based on the company’s Goliath formulation, to automotive e-OEMs and tier 1 EV battery manufacturers.
Goliath solid-state battery cells for EV battery packs. Image used courtesy of Ilika
Code-named SiSTEM, the program initiated its work on October 1, 2023, and will be funded with £2.7 million from the UK Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF), created to support large-scale industrialization. The funding includes £850 million earmarked for developing a comprehensive, high-value electric vehicle supply chain within the U.K.
Mpac Group is a global developer of high-speed automation and manufacturing solutions within clean energy and other key industry sectors. UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC), with a facility based in Coventry, U.K., brings expertise in the commercial development of new battery technologies that previously have only shown promise in controlled laboratory environments.
The commercial SSB production facility will be targeted for full operation by the first half of 2025.
Solid-State Batteries for E-Mobility
Lithium-ion is the dominant rechargeable battery storage technology in modern EVs and other e-mobile platforms. In lithium-ion batteries, a liquid electrolyte facilitates ion flows between the anode and cathode of the battery during charge and discharge cycles. Conversely, SSBs use a solid electrolyte to facilitate these chemical reactions and current flows.
Li-ion and solid-state battery construction. Image used courtesy of Samsung SDI
SSBs have higher energy densities than lithium-ion batteries, making them an attractive option for mobile platforms like EVs, where size and weight are fundamental to vehicle performance regarding range and charge times.
They are also safer since a solid electrolyte is not subject to thermal expansion that can damage the cell enclosures in lithium-ion batteries and leak the highly flammable liquid electrolyte.
Solid-state batteries are already widely used in many smaller, portable applications like smartphones and computers. However, challenges remain despite some significant benefits of solid-state technologies for EVs and other higher energy applications. Most notably, solid-state cells have proven difficult to produce at the size and energy levels needed for EVs and, to date, are not cost-competitive with their lithium-ion counterparts.
Goliath Solid-State Battery Technology
Ilika’s Goliath is a solid-state battery technology specifically designed for electric vehicles and cordless consumer electronics. Goliath SSBs are made from an oxide solid electrolyte and a silicon anode that leverages the inherent safety benefits of the solid electrolyte approach.
Goliath SSB technology for EVs. Image used courtesy of Ilika
According to Ilika, with its enhanced safety features, Goliath SSBs can operate at higher temperatures than lithium-ion batteries, allowing for more dense battery packs (more cells per pack) with cheaper and less complex battery management systems.
Constructing an EV battery from Goliath SSB cells. Image used courtesy of Ilika
SiSTEM and the ‘Road to Manufacturing’
Ilika CEO Graeme Purdy stated that the SiSTEM initiative will build upon the advancements of the recent BUS100 program (also funded by ATF) that demonstrated the potential to produce SSBs based on Ilika’s Goliath technology, using the same equipment used in lithium-ion battery production.
SiSTEM program participants for commercial SSB development. Image used courtesy of Ilika
With SiSTEM, UKBIC’s production equipment capabilities, along with Mpac’s assembly and automation expertise, will be paired with Ilika’s SSB formulations to prove the commercialization potential demonstrated in BUS100, with the goal of A-sample automotive pouch cells delivered to OEMs for trial in EV development platforms by 2025.
Along with Ilika’s internal R&D initiatives, the ATF-funded programs are assisting the company with its “road to manufacturing,” helping it scale its Goliath battery technology from kWh to MWh capacity and, ultimately, to GWh production levels.