In a speech at Stanford University last week, Dr Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Volkswagen, said that he sees great potential in solid-state batteries, which could boost EV range to as much as 435 miles, representing a volumetric energy density of about 1,000 Wh/l.
Replacing the traditional liquid electrolyte with a nonflammable inorganic solid electrolyte simplifies battery design while improving safety and durability. It also allows the use of large-capacity electrode materials such as sulfur and lithium metal.
A solid-state battery can also be packaged more efficiently, as the cell design allows in-series stacking and bi-polar structures (Ann Marie Sastry, CEO of solid-state battery maker Sakti3, made some points along these lines in a recent panel discussion).
“Electrochemistry is a field of the greatest importance – internationally and across industries,” said Dr Winterkorn. “A field where we can and must achieve progress. High-performance energy storage is key to big challenges of our times – namely, climate protection and a sustainable mobility.”
“To really succeed with electric vehicles we need batteries with a higher range, less weight and lower cost,” he continued. “This is crucial for broad acceptance among customers world-wide. It is crucial for economies of scale in purchasing and production. So, for Europe’s largest carmaker, battery technology is ranking high on our agenda. That starts at the top – in my office the “Basics of Electrochemistry” is a book with a permanent place on the desk.”
“Lowering the price of battery cells to 100 euros ($124) per kilowatt hour would significantly increase the market potential of electric vehicles,” said Winterkorn. “And if we also improve reliability and battery lifespan, customer acceptance will grow fast. We are reaching out to the world of science to make all this happen. Of course, these are complex challenges and progress is not attained overnight. It takes knowledge, it takes precision and it takes lots of persistence.”