Tech Thursday: Louisville-based Solid Power wants to build better batteries for electric cars

Posted at 11:40 AM, Aug 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-31 13:41:00-04

LOUISVILLE, Colo. – A Colorado company is aiming to build safer, more efficient batteries for the next generation of electric vehicles.

Louisville-based Solid Power, which got its start at the University of Colorado, is working on developing state-of-the-art solid state rechargeable batteries that use a solid ion-conducting material instead of the traditional liquid that’s found in lithium-ion batteries currently in use.

Solid Power co-founder and CEO Doug Campbell said a big advantage of solid state batteries is an increase in energy density – meaning more power packed into the same size battery. Campbell said solid state batteries can produce 150 to 200 percent more energy than even the best lithium-ion batteries currently available, and that means more driving time on a single charge.

“Your vehicle would essentially have twice the range,” he said.

Another advantage is stability: “There are lot of safety concerns for lithium-ion,” Campbell said.

As demonstrated with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone issues and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner battery problems, the liquid contained in lithium-ion batteries can be volatile and poses a risk of explosion or fire if damaged or overheated.

With a solid state battery, the liquid is replaced with a solid material that’s much more stable and less flammable. Campbell said testing has showed that solid state batteries can take a lot of abuse without posing a safety risk.

Campbell said Solid Power is working with several auto manufacturers with a goal of releasing products within the next five to 10 years.

With the electric vehicle market quickly growing – Volvo will no longer make gasoline-only cars after 2019, for example – Campbell said there’s a huge area of opportunity for Colorado tech companies.

“The impact is just huge,” Campbell said. “The emergence of companies like Solid Power could change that [tech] landscape here in Colorado.”