Another company is looking at solid-state batteries.
A few days ago, information released on the recruitment page of the official website of rivian, a new American car maker, showed that the automobile manufacturer was looking for manufacturing engineers to develop solid-state batteries.
The five jobs currently listed are for rivian's Palo Alto plant in California. These positions include manager and senior manager, senior manufacturing engineer and employee manufacturing engineer, all of which are related to solid state battery.
Compared with traditional lithium-ion batteries currently used by electric vehicle manufacturers, solid-state batteries are highly praised for their higher capacity potential.
According to rivian's recruitment page, all of these positions will work at his Palo Alto factory in the bay area of California. Interestingly, on the same page, rivian said the Palo Alto office focused on its software stack and vehicle electronics, including vehicle control, cloud connectivity and autonomy. There is no mention of battery development or manufacturing.
Rivian is headquartered in Irvine, seven hours south of California, and is said to be home to power systems and battery systems.
Referring to the recruitment information for the senior manager position, rivian is looking for "building and managing an integrated team engaged in solid state battery manufacturing.". Other responsibilities in the job description include working with technical partners to define and deliver solid-state battery production lines and identify key tasks required for scale-up.
It seems that rivian sees solid-state battery cells as a potential next-generation power for his fleet. However, mastering and expanding solid-state batteries is a task that is easier said than done.
Although the number of electric vehicles on the road in the world continues to grow every year, the current battery technology can not keep up. Lithium ion battery is the preferred power for electronic equipment and electric vehicles.
However, with more and more automobile manufacturers moving towards electrification and promoting the development of electric vehicle technology, the development speed of lithium-ion battery is much slower.
This is because of their chemical and structural limitations.
First of all, they are expensive to manufacture. In addition, they use liquid electrolytes to move electrons between the positive (cathode) and negative (anode). This not only limits the capacity of a single charge, but also limits the charging speed of these batteries. More importantly, it limits the potential for manufacturers to use new materials.
Moreover, the chemical stability of Li ion battery is very poor. In order to bring the car manufacturers to a new level in mileage and charging speed, they pack as many batteries as possible on the electric vehicle platform to improve energy density. However, this may lead to more risks of overheating and explosion, as we have seen from some battery manufacturers.
Solid state batteries remove flammable liquid electrolytes from the equation. They use solid electrolytes. This technology enables greater capacity and faster charging.
Over the years, many start-ups have promised solid-state, fast charging, which is outrageous in capacity, but they haven't fulfilled it.
There are several hurdles to overcome in developing effective solid state batteries, and rivian seems to want to contribute to this research.
Compared with liquid electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries, many tested solid electrolytes provide lower ionic conductivity.
Due to the solid composition, the electrolyte can not completely cover the anode or cathode. What's more, the stress caused by continuous volume change will loosen the contact and lead to the isolation of anode and cathode. So in essence, if the internal components are not suitable, these solid-state batteries will degrade quickly.
Recently, however, some companies seem to have overcome most or even all of these problems. Quantum scape, for example, claims to have a proprietary ceramic based design that will make solid-state batteries viable.
Rivian thinks it's a good time to develop his own solid-state battery. If successful, this transformation may change the industry competitiveness of this young electric vehicle manufacturer.