Tesla Megapack, courtesy of Tesla Inc.
Nicolas Caballero's picture

First Commercially Viable Solid State Battery From QuantumScape, Doubling Tesla's Wh-kg Ratio

QuantumScape has announced impressive performance figures for what may be the first commercially viable lithium metal solid state battery. They claim that they can increase the autonomy of an electric car by up to 80%, and it that it can charge from 0 to 80% in just 15 minutes.
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By using a solid electrolyte instead of the typical liquid solution, solid-state batteries can store considerably more energy by weight and volume than lithium-ion batteries; but yet, making a battery that is reliable and has a useful life appropriate to any driver's needs - high charge and discharge rates, long service life, and without any temperature or safety concerns - has proven difficult up to now.

QuantumScape says it has solved the problem with a new design that uses lithium-metal anodes that are not formed during manufacturing, but formed around the current collector when the battery is charged. The energy density is reportedly excellent. In volumetric terms, the new battery can store 1 kWh/l, about four times what the current Tesla Model 3 battery stores. By weight, it offers between 380-500 Wh/kg, as compared to 260 Wh/kg in packages currently used by Tesla.

The QuantumScape battery charges at blazing speeds, allowing a 0-80% charge in 15 minutes. It can retain more than 80% of its capacity after 800 cycles, which would represent about 240,000 miles (386,000 km) traveled in an electric car.

Tesla Supercharger, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Dr. Stanley Whittingham, co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery and winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, stated in that regard that "… the hardest part of making a working solid state battery is the need to simultaneously meet the requirements of high energy density, fast charging, long life cycle, and wide operating temperature range. These data show that QuantumScape cells meet all of these requirements, something that has never been achieved before. If QuantumScape can bring this technology to large-scale production, it has the potential to transform the industry."

According to Venkat Viswanathan, a battery expert and professor of materials science at Carnegie-Mellon University, "… these results blow up what was previously thought possible in a solid-state battery. Withstanding a high enough current density to allow fast charging without forming dendrites has long been an industry holy grail."

Megapack, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Dendrites are tiny, rigid tree-like structures that can grow inside a lithium battery; their needle-like projections are called whiskers. Both cause tremendous harm; notably, they can pierce a structure known as the separator inside a battery, much like a weed can poke through a concrete patio or a paved road. They also increase unwanted reactions between the electrolyte and the lithium, speeding up battery failure. Dendrites and whiskers are holding back the widespread use of lithium metal batteries, which have higher energy density than their commonly used lithium-ion counterparts.

QuantumScape is an American company that does research about solid state lithium metal batteries for electric cars. The company is headquartered in San Jose, California and employs around 400 people. It was founded in 2010 by Jagdeep Singh, Tim Holme and Professor Fritz Prinz of Stanford University. In 2012, QuantumScape began working with German automaker Volkswagen.

In 2018, Volkswagen invested $100 million in the company, becoming the largest shareholder. In the same year, Volkswagen and QuantumScape announced the establishment of a joint production project to prepare for mass production of solid state batteries. In June 2020, Volkswagen made an additional $200 million investment into the company.

In September 2020 QuantumScape announced a merger with the special-purpose acquisition company Kensington Capital Acquisition. As a result of the merger, QuantumScape will receive $1 billion in financing, including funding from Volkswagen and the Qatar Investment Authority. At the same time, the company's shares will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol QS. The transaction was completed in November 2020 and raised capital for the series production of batteries.

You can find more information and details on their website, www.quantumscape.com

Tesla Model 3, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Will this challenge Tesla Model 3 and Model Y battery plans? Only time will tell, but please let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.


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Comments

QS ssb energy density 1kWh/L, four times the energy density of model 3 battery. This point alone proves that you really do not know what you are talking about. All Tesla ev battery have at least 650 Wh/L energy density.
Where did you get this high battery density number for Tesla? Please post your source. Thanks
You're confusing litres with kilograms. Easy mistake to make
Manufacturing QS batteries may not be that big of a problem. The problem most likely will be cost vs Tesla's 4680 battery that theoretically will provide ~350Wh/Kg at ~half the current cost of the 2170 cells. Can QS compete against Panasonic golden egg batteries for Tesla, that's my question? LFP, NMC and Sulfur based batteries are a different ballgame. Most Tesla batteries are NCA, though China seems to have allowed them to use LFP batteries o in some newer Model 3/Ys. This will have impact on how this market develops If QS can compete in cost and reliability (reliability takes time to prove, the same goes for 4680). Then QS might have something. (Ask GM, and all other ev manufacturers if it's easy to compete against 2170 cells??? Forget 4680s). Though if QS or Panasonic/Tesla could reach 450Wh/Kg, now that's a game changer regardless of cost before someone else beats them to this market. That implies that planes can use them!. Planes need over 400wh/kg to become viable. And so can long haul transportation vehicles (trucks/ships/defense). There are new VC backed initiatives that target this market with over~400wh/kg @10-20A, today!. Current QS technology has potential to affect at least electronic products, will it affect vehicles and transportation, defense sectors as well, that remains to be seen. Discloser, I'm long on QS and thinking about TSLA.
Tesla's 2170 cells used in the Model 3 and Y have a volumetric density of around 730 Wh/l. Terrible article.
You are comparing volume to weight, pretty daft for someone correcting others. Wh/Kg and Wh/l are not interchangeable. Do you compare the price of one car to the colour of another? I suppose you do if it paints Tesla in a better light, lol.
Yes Wh/L and Wh/kg are entirely related via weight density. Lithium ion batteries has a weight density of 2.6 kg/L. Wh/kg = Wh/L / kg/L For example 650 Wh/L equal to: 650 Wh/L / 2.6 Kg/L = 650 / 2.6 Wh/kg = 250 Wh/ kg. I gather you do not know any math when accusing people.
Lithium ion battery has weight density of average 2.6 kg/L. 650 Wh/L is equal to 250 Wh/kg. Go to the spec of model 3 and find out for your self. If I am wrong a few percent than it is ok. If I am wrong more than 20% than get back to me. This author deliberately making a mistake to deceive people.
How much will it cost? When will the battery be ready for testing? There are quite a few questions, that must be answered, before the battery can be mass produced for a vehicle. How long before a vehicle is ready?
This is great news. Tesla batteries are plagued with rapid degradation, typically 10% the first year and it seems like weekly fires now. Hopefully these new batteries will be safe and longer lasting.
Tesla batteries are currently the King which other companies strive to compete with. They definitely don't have rapid degradation lol. There are batteries with well over 500,000 miles and their new 4680 cells are going to push them even further ahead of the pack. Fires are such a tiny number they wouldn't even register percentage wise when compared to the number of Tesla's on the road. GM on the other hand has a legitimate battery issue on their hands with the Bolt which I'm sure they will fix.
Good progress. With further development it could become just as good as Tesla' 4680, which is already in proven production.
Tesla are so last decade.
I believe Tesla 2170 batteries had a energy density of 260 Wh/Kg
Only time will tell if it can out perform the industry standard li-ion battery packs. Cost, performance, life, and safety are the biggest issues facing all EV batteries. Will a solid state battery hold up in rough environment, like rough roads in the upper Midwest?
Now, this don't sound like the 12 million mile battery that is suppose to charge in 8 mins. Gos 9200 on one charge and last up to 12 million miles!! What company is producing that battery?? They are suppose to be out of California..
This will not happen anytime soon. When Tesla adopted the 18650 Li-Ion battery in 2009, it was already in mass production and had 25+ years of historical performance data. When QS has a prototype ready, it will have to be validated for many years in an automobile environment before it can be put in a mass produced auto. QS may make a car battery, but it will not be anytime soon. Meanwhile QS can survive on batteries for benign environments like portable electronics, power tools, stationary storage, etc..
While I think these developments are exciting and potentially game changing, the issue with solid state batteries isn't so much the ability to painstakingly make them in a lab, it's their mass producability. Or rather, the lack thereof. They're extremely difficult to manufacture at scale, whereas traditional lithium ion batteries are pretty easy to manufacture at this point. What all this means is that manufacturing them in large volumes and at prices that will allow the cars they're used in to be affordable, is going to be the real test. And it's a massive obstacle to overcome. I hope they pull it off, I really do, but solid state is likely further away than one would like to believe.
Oh pleeese ! "Difficult to manufacture at scale". - typical unquestioning parroting of carmakers' favourite hand-me-down excuse for perpetual, foot-dragging. Come on - explain in detail exactly what is so unique about solid-state batteries that they can't be popped out in far less time than it now takes to produce an entire, highly complex smartphone and its battery: ie. less than 20 seconds.
I'm still expecting the lithium ceramic batteries to make it into production, as the eliminate dendrite issue completely. And durability and safety is absolute.
Wow, so many butthurt Tesla defence warriors here. They don't want anybody to ever develop new technology because it means Musk made another dubious move (as with LiDAR and fuel cells). This is great news for all EV fans (it's only bad news for Tesla fanboys). This is the fifth time I've seen a breakthrough in solid state batteries have it's forum derailed by extremely nervous Tesla fans assuring each other that nobody will beat Tesla any time soon. The truth is that Tesla are losing their edge by the day. There are more and more longer range, faster, quicker charging EV's by the day. China will dominate the market soon. The thing that made Chinese cars so poor were the engine and transmission which are completely negated by electric motors (which the Chinese excel at).
Actually, if range improves 80% to say 800km then 800 cycles are not 240k miles but 432k miles. Just saying.
This article is so great it is unbelievable. No source of information given, no references to scientificaly obtained data. To me it looks like someone paid the author to write a pean to drop the peasants on their knees and rush them to buy some QS stock. Someone is literally inflating the bubble.
So impressive, eh ? Yet in the real world VW are still keen to drag their solid-state feet until some vague launch-point before 2030. If the performance is already proven there can be no credible excuses to delay roll-out into the real world for so long. The Chinese certainly won't drag their feet VW-style. And S.Korea's leading battery-manufacturers won't want to be humiliated or left behind by China. So what's the excuse/problem, VW, Quantumscape ? The usual "..very difficult to 'scale up' " ? "Difficult to move out of the lab unless cocked, loaded guns are held to your heads ?" Paul G
So impressive, eh ? Yet in the real world VW are still keen to drag their solid-state feet until some vague launch-point before 2030. If the performance is already proven there can be no credible excuses to delay roll-out into the real world for so long. The Chinese certainly won't drag their feet VW-style. And S.Korea's leading battery-manufacturers won't want to be humiliated or left behind by China. So what's the excuse/problem, VW, Quantumscape ? The usual "..very difficult to 'scale up' " ? "Difficult to move out of the lab unless cocked, loaded guns are held to your heads ?" Paul G
Hmm... Could one of those mysterious unnamed automakers testing QS battery be Tesla?
Sssh! Swiss company/startup set to start solid state production in..2023(!!). And its cobalt-free. Noone reading this will have read about it because all the usual, top-page-ranking EV sites have failed/refused to report it. Why ? Because 2023 is far too disruptively early for major carmakers outside China. Solid state stasis till 2028-2030 is the tacitly agreed schedule. Then solid state batts will be reserved for premium-priced EVs for 5-10 years. So bring on the fast-track consensus-busters - whether from China, S.Korea...or Switzerland. I'm not gonna give you the link to that Swiss startup - to find it you'll have to web-search(copy & paste) this article headline instead: "Solid State Battery with great Environmental Performance and Longevity". Paul G
Manufacturing QS batteries may not be that big of a problem. The problem most likely will be cost vs Tesla's 4680 battery that theoretically will provide ~350Wh/Kg at ~half the current cost of the 2170 cells. Can QS compete against Panasonic golden egg batteries for Tesla, that's my question? LFP, NMC and Sulfur based batteries are a different ballgame. Most Tesla batteries are NCA, though China seems to have allowed them to use LFP batteries o in some newer Model 3/Ys. This will have impact on how this market develops If QS can compete in cost and reliability (reliability takes time to prove, the same goes for 4680). Then QS might have something. (Ask GM, and all other ev manufacturers if it's easy to compete against 2170 cells??? Forget 4680s). Though if QS or Panasonic/Tesla could reach 450Wh/Kg, now that's a game changer regardless of cost before someone else beats them to this market. That implies that planes can use them!. Planes need over 400wh/kg to become viable. And so can long haul transportation vehicles (trucks/ships/defense). There are new VC backed initiatives that target this market with over~400wh/kg @10-20A, today!. Current QS technology has potential to affect at least electronic products, will it affect vehicles and transportation, defense sectors as well, that remains to be seen. Discloser, I'm long on QS and thinking about TSLA.