QuantumScape has recently suffered a major blow with the loss of its Manufacturing Director, Celina Mikolajczak. However, in the letter sent in the second quarter of 2022 and addressed to its shareholders, the US company doesn’t even echo this thread. Instead, he did announce two significant achievements: the agreement with two new manufacturers of more cars that have up to a total of six that have already signed up for the sampling of their technology, and the arrival of 24-layer cells.
Solid electrolyte batteries are one of the most promising technologies to achieve much higher energy and power densities than those offered by liquid electrolyte. Among the functional advantages they provide is the high volumetric density encrypted by more than 50% compared to these with the additional benefit of being much safer, since all risk of fire is avoided. Also, significantly reduce recharge times practically equaling the refueling times of a tank of gasoline. One of the most promising and most solvent companies that are working on this technology is the American QuantumScape.
In April of this year, it presented its third cell prototype, in this case with 16 layers that in the tests supported 500 charge and discharge cycles under the same conditions as the previous prototypes, obtaining similar results in terms of loading speed and degradation. Now, QuantumScape reaches 24 layers a crucial moment for this technology, as it explains in its statement: “They represent A-sample candidates for some OEM manufacturers in the automotive industry”. For the actual start-up of its solid electrolyte batteries, the company planned to send A samples during the year 2022, which has fulfilled its objective and shows that deadlines are being met.
QuantumScape encountered some challenges in its production processes, “from discovering a contaminant in our material to identifying defects introduced during the production process.” Problems that the startup claims to have partially resolved although it is still working on them.
One of the main achievements of QuantumScape is the catholyte, through which ions travel from one electrode to another. While conventional batteries require a liquid electrolyte to connect the cathode and anode, these use a solid electrolyte to make the ions travel through the ceramic separator to the cathode.
The fact that the catholyte does not have to interact with the anode allows the startup to use “incompatible materials with other systems”. QuantumScape is now developing the second generation of this catholic. The startup also boasts of having achieved greater uniformity in the production of its ceramic separator, which is the secret ingredient of its solid electrolyte cells.
The six mysterious manufacturers
Founded in 2010 with the goal of developing scalable solid-state batteries for application in electric vehicles, QuantumScape, Headquartered in San Jose, California, it holds nearly 200 patents and patent applications on this technology. It has been backed by Volkswagen since it invested $100 million eight years ago to accelerate the development of solid-state batteries. In the fall of 2020 it became a public listed company through a SPAC, through the reverse merger with Kensington Capital Acquisition.
QuantumScape reached agreements with four manufacturers of automobiles that were willing to evaluate their samples. On the two new ones being added now there is no specific mention. Regarding the initials, the company said that three of them were among the top 10 global automakers by revenue and one was a luxury carmaker. The company now lists a “premium performance” brand and a “pure EV” manufacturer.
volkswagen is one of them because it is one of the main investors, which also makes it the most likely candidate to be the first to present an electric car that uses solid-state battery cells from QuantumScape. The rest of the manufacturers that collaborate with the company have never been officially announced, but it is possible to approach their names by elimination.
The Volkswagen Group has some high-performance brands in its ranks, such as Porsche and Lamborghini, which should be listed simply because of Volkswagen’s involvement in QuantumScape. Surely these brands will have a certain independence in deciding whether or not to review and test solid state cells. Of the two, Porsche stands out as an almost sure bet.
Rimac could also fit in the project. Although it does not belong to Volkswagen, it is now closely related to the German automobile group after the purchase of Bugatti. The fact that the Croatian manufacturer that only works on electric cars includes it in the definition of “pure EV”. It is clear that Tesla is not involved and the only options left would be Chinese companies, Polestarwhich began its career with a plug-in hybrid or Lucid Motors.