Quantumscape ships next iteration of solid state cells

Shipments are a milestone on path to development of QSE-5 solid state battery

Quantumscape ships next iteration of solid state cells
The firm hopes to begin producing its QSE-5 solid state cells next year

US battery challenger Quantumscape has started customer shipments of its Alpha-2 prototype battery cells.

The shipments are a key milestone on the path to commercialisation of the firm’s first solid state battery, the QSE-5, due to be launched in 2025.

“Customer feedback is the most critical input in the product development cycle as it provides insight into areas that need improvement and strengthens collaboration,” says Quantumscape CEO Siva Sivaram. “The faster we can get new product iterations into customers’ hands, the faster we get to production.”

In 2022 the firm shipped its first A0 prototype cells to prospective customers, and has been progressively releasing results from its testing.

The best performing cell achieved 95pc discharge energy retention over 1,000 cycles in automotive OEM battery labs.

The battery tests were carried out in the laboratories of the Powerco, the battery company of Volkswagen Group. The firm is one of the main investors in the technology start-up.

“These are very encouraging test results and a milestone on the way to series production of the solid-state cell,” said Powerco CEO Frank Blome of last year's tests. “We are convinced of the solid-state cell and are continuing to work at full speed with our partner Quantumscape towards series production."

The Alpha-2 prototypes are an intermediate step between the A0 and the QSE-5 B0 prototypes planned for later this year.

They feature the main functionality of the QSE-5 and are an opportunity for customers to test performance and reliability.

The company will continue to build and ship Alpha-2 prototypes to automotive customers over the next few months, before incorporating feedback into the first QSE-5 cells.

In 2024 the firm will also begin ramping up its ‘Raptor’ production process for the QSE-5 cells, and aims to begin QSE-5 prototype production at low volumes before the end of the year. High-volume production is targeted for 2025.

“The improvements in energy and power densities demonstrated by the Alpha-2 prototypes indicate that QSE-5 can push the boundaries of solid-state battery performance,” says Tim Holme, CTO of Quantumscape. “We continue to advance our anode-free, solid-state battery in performance and maturity with methodical execution on our milestones.”

Solid status

Solid state batteries have the potential to offer better energy density, faster charging times, a wider operating temperature range and a simpler, more scalable manufacturing process than conventional lithium-ion batteries. 

Earlier this month Chinese automaker IM Motors released details of one of the first cars in the Chinese market to launch with a solid solid state battery, the L6.

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A number of OEMs are investing in the technology.  Toyota has been developing the batteries with Japanese electronics company Panasonic since April 2020.

And European OEM Stellantis has a joint development agreement for solid state batteries with technology firm Factorial Energy. 

In May last year, Ganfeng Lithium announced mass production of solid state batteries at a plant in China.

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