Korean firms ramp up development of all-solid-state batteries

Posted on : 2024-01-18 17:00 KST Modified on : 2024-01-18 17:00 KST
Battery makers in the country including SK On and Samsung SDI are setting up teams and facilities for all-solid-state cells, lauded as next-gen batteries
Sung Min-suk, the chief commercial officer of SK On, shakes hands with Solid Power CEO John Van Scoter on Jan. 10 in Las Vegas after signing a technology license agreement between their two companies. (courtesy of SK On)
Sung Min-suk, the chief commercial officer of SK On, shakes hands with Solid Power CEO John Van Scoter on Jan. 10 in Las Vegas after signing a technology license agreement between their two companies. (courtesy of SK On)

Rechargeable battery companies are ramping up their development of all-solid-state batteries, which have been drawing attention as next-generation batteries thanks to their short charging times and high energy density, which translates into longer driving distances.

Even with electric vehicle (EV) consumption declining, the fact that the batteries are in the initial stages of entering the market means that companies have to set the goal of acquiring future battery technology capabilities.

SK On announced Wednesday that it had signed a technology transfer agreement in Las Vegas on Jan. 10 with the US-based all-solid-state battery company Solid Power. Based on this agreement, SK On will be able to engage in research and development using all of Solid Power’s battery cell designs and pilot line technology.

Solid Power previously announced that it had supplied EV all-solid-state battery A-sample cells to the German automaker BMW. SK On plans to establish all-solid-state battery testing and production facilities at its battery research center in Daejeon by 2025.

Among South Korean companies, Samsung SDI moved the quickest to begin developing all-solid-state batteries and producing samples. Late last year, it established its “ASB” commercialization pursuit team as a dedicated organization working on all-solid-state batteries.

As an organization under direct authority within the company’s medium- and large-battery division, the team is involved in full-scale efforts on all-solid-state batteries. Its current development activities have a target commercialization date of as early as 2027.

In Japan, the automaker Toyota followed its declaration of plans to commercialize all-solid-state batteries by 2027–28 with an announcement in October that it was approaching mass production capabilities.

In the first half of last year, the Japanese company Maxell became the world’s first business to announce the successful development of an ultra-small all-solid-state battery. But its EV all-solid-state batteries remain at the pre-commercialization stage.

An analyst with KB Research explained, “The solid electrolytes that are currently being studied can be divided into sulfide, oxide, and polymer types.”

“Of these, the sulfides are seen as the closest to commercialization, but because they generate hydrogen sulfide [a poisonous gas] when they react with water, researchers are looking at different methods of improvement, including coating,” they said.

“Despite the many difficulties, a lot of different solutions are being experimented with, and the general prediction is that the problems are ultimately surmountable,” they added.

By Choi Woo-ri, staff reporter

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