Samsung will produce its first solid electrolyte batteries in less than a year

The Korean manufacturer of batteries for electric vehicles Samsung SDI has announced an important advance in its solid electrolyte battery development program. Its production at the pilot plant currently being built near Seoul, initially scheduled for 2027, is now moving forward to early 2023, according to official information published by the company itself. This advance in its schedule is due to its “technological feasibility” and the “experience for its mass production” that is extracted from the R&D program that it experiments with these batteries.

Last March, Samsung SDI, the division dedicated to the development and production of batteries of the South Korean technology giant, began building the ‘S-Line’ pilot line at its research and development center located in Suwon. It is at this facility that it planned to produce the first solid electrolyte battery cells in 2027. Now, a month later, the company announces that it will begin production of solid electrolyte batteries early 2023.

“By verifying our technological feasibility and ensuring the necessary manufacturing procedures, we will speed up the time for mass production,” quotes the news agency which claims to echo information from Samsung itself. The Korean company has not provided more details about this important advance in its work schedule nor has it established an approximate date for the start of marketing so that they can be implemented in the first electric cars. The same medium that has revealed the news has consulted with the automotive professor at Daelim University, Kim Pil-soo, about this news: “It remains to be seen if Samsung SDI will be able to achieve a breakthrough, but the pilot project is significant” , has declared.

Samsung SDI Flat Cylindrical Battery Cells
Samsung SDI Flat Cylindrical Battery Cells

Samsung follows in the footsteps of nissan, which also issued a statement a month ago in which it explained in considerable detail its progress in the development of solid electrolyte batteries. In his case, he presented a facility in which the prototypes are manufactured, and which will serve as the basis for the development of the definitive technology. While the Japanese manufacturer is currently experimenting with limited, hand-built battery batches, the data collected will be used to set up a pilot production line at Nissan’s Yokohama plant in 2024with the ultimate goal of manufacturing them internally on a large scale in 2028.

In a lithium battery, the two electrodes and the separator that prevents them from touching each other are immersed in a liquid or gel electrolyte that facilitates the movement of the ions. The operation of these batteries is highly dependent on temperature and in many situations their chemical composition makes them dangerously susceptible to combustion. The liquid electrolyte is precisely the part of the battery that makes them most dangerous, as it swells due to changes in temperature and can cause a short circuit when the electrodes touch, which can even cause a fire.

solid electrolyte battery cells prototype nissan-interior1
Nissan solid-state battery cell prototype. Image: Nissan.

The batteries that use solid materials for the electrolyte they are not as susceptible to thermal changes. Their structure improves stability and safety by keeping their shape even if the electrolyte is damaged, making them less prone to short circuits. But the promises of this technology go even further. They provide greater energy density and therefore greater autonomy. They also allow higher recharging power and greater freedom when designing their shape to integrate them into different types of vehicles. Last but not least, the less complexity of your packaging, since you do not need as many systems to monitor your security, reduces production cost.

Its development is divided into two branches. The first is find the materialsales that are part of that solid electrolyte that allows the lithium ions to travel through them. The second is to make its high-volume production be economically viable.

In March 2020, Samsung SDI introduced its first solid-state cell prototype. According to the information he gave at that time, the previous tests showed that they could achieve autonomies of 800 kilometers maintaining the sizes, volumes and weights of current lithium batteries. In addition, regarding their useful life, with them it was possible to reach the 1,000 charge and discharge cyclesan amount that is considered by experts as necessary to make them viable when installed in an electric vehicle.

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