Quantum Scape hails 'exceptional' solid state battery prototype results

California start-up counting Bill Gates among its backers reports further promising test results

Quantum Scape hails 'exceptional' solid state battery prototype results
Quantumscape's 24 layer prototype cell

Lithium-metal solid-state battery company Quantum Scape (QS) has seen “exceptional results” from prototypes of its first commercial solid state battery — due to be launched in 2025.

The firm shipped its first prototype cells to prospective customers in the forth quarter of last year, and has been progressively releasing results from its testing. It has now disclosed that the best performing cell achieved 95pc discharge energy retention over 1,000 cycles in automotive OEM battery labs.

“This is an exceptional result. We are not aware of any automotive-format lithium-metal battery that has shown such high discharge energy retention over a comparable cycle count at room temperature and modest pressure,” says QS CFO Jagdeep Singh.

“We believe that no competing electrolyte, solid or liquid, has demonstrated sufficient stability with lithium-metal to achieve this, and that this result sets a new high-water mark for lithium-metal battery performance.”

The prototype has the same number of layers and cell format as the commercial cell the firm intends to produce, called the QSE-5. In the next phase of testing, the firm will now combine these aspects with higher cathode loading, with results due some time in 2024.

“It is more of an integration task between now when we have QSE-5 than it is a task of developing fundamentally new features,” says Singh. “When these aspects are combined, along with improvements to packaging efficiency and manufacturing process controls and automation for improved reliability, it forms the core of our first commercial product, QSE-5.”

The firm’s primary focus is now on developing the QSE-5, which it hopes can be used in a range of passenger and commercial vehicles, including motorcycles, cars, trucks, and SUVs. It is “collaborating closely” with a customer in the automotive sector for a launch.

In the short term, the firm’s goals all revolve around building a sufficient level of technical and manufacturing maturity to enable initial production of the QSE-5 cell. 

“With just a few months remaining in the year, we are maintaining aggressive near-term schedules and remain focused on bringing a potentially disruptive first product to market in the near future,” says Singh.

The firm has also taken steps to strengthen its longer-term strategic position, securing more funding for R&D and extending its cash runway until 2026.

Solid state batteries have been in the headlines recently after Toyota announced it had made a “breakthrough” with the technology, which it said had the potential to double the range of its vehicles. 

“We are genuinely pleased to see a company like Toyota endorsing solid-state batteries as the future of EVs,” says Singh

But he notes that QS still believes its technology could be superior to Toyota’s sulfide-based approach. One of the key challenges with sulfide-based approaches is a low cycle life as a result poor electrochemical stability and the propensity to form lithium-metal dendrites.

“We are not aware of data from anyone that demonstrated these fundamental challenges of lithium-metal dendrite formation in sulfide-based systems has been addressed at room temperature and modest pressures. But if data exists, we welcome seeing it,” Singh says.

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