Scientists have been trying to figure out what to do with the liquid in the battery. The electrolyte is important to how batteries work. Adding weight and bulk limits how far electric vehicles can travel on a charge, and it can catch fire when a battery shorts. Replacing that liquid with a solid would be ideal. The trick is to make that switch while keeping the other qualities of a battery. A solid-state battery has to work in all sorts of weather and send you farther down the road on each charge. It is one of the most difficult questions in materials science.

Solid-state batteries have made steady progress recently. The little battery cells that were once sputtering after being charged are now larger than before. Once you have built a good-enough battery, how do you build millions of them quickly? "These companies are going to have to have a massive mindset change, going from being R&D companies to manufacturing companies." It won't be easy.

Solid Power, one of the more lavishly funded of those solid-state companies, has launched a pilot line in Colorado that it hopes will answer that question. It will be capable of producing 300 cells per week. It will take months of finessing tools and processes to get there compared to the millions of cells produced by gigafactories. The goal is for cells to be delivered to car makers by the end of the year.

The company will pass the baton to one of its battery partners once the automakers are happy with how the batteries do on the road. That should be easy according to Campbell. Solid Power has designed a unique flavor of solid-state design that allows battery makers to reuse existing processes and equipment. The last cell production line that is operated by Solid Power is located in Colorado.

That seems to make sense. There is a battery. Solid-state batteries have the same requirements as their liquid-filled cousins. The electrolyte comes in that location. It is difficult to make something that is porous to ion and not crack. Researchers have been looking for the right materials for a long time and settled on a range of ideas, including ceramics and plastic. Some of them are difficult to make. Some are so brittle that they can fall apart when they are made and others are so pliant that they can't be exposed to water. battery scientists don't have a lot of experience making the kinds of materials that are needed to make them There isn't any history there.

There are two problems, the anode and the second problem. Solid-state can be achieved if you change the anode from the typical graphite to the more modern metal of the same name. It is a recipe for a lot of energy. There is a problem with the form of the metal. The powdered materials are used to make the battery. In the case of Solid Power, the thickness of the foil is 35 microns. It has the same consistency as wet tissue paper. It gets very difficult when you make a lot of material.