April 26th, 2023
Have the European battery producers completely lost touch? Chinese battery manufacturers are celebrating new product successes everywhere: The first sodium batteries (BYD, CATL, 2021) are being produced in Asia, high-performance cooling/heating systems (Qilin battery, 2022) and new cell chemistries (LFP) and pack designs (cell-to-pack ) come onto the market.
The biggest “battery quake” so far for 2023: CATL announces its “Condensed Matter Battery” cells with over 500 Wh/kg on April 19th! And we ask ourselves: Could this be the first mass-produced solid-state battery? And where on earth are we Europeans in this race?
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“The Condensed Battery from CATL is a so-called ‘Almost Solid-State Battery’ (ASSB)”, says Prof. Maximilian Fichtner. Several companies are currently working on the development of such semi-solid-state batteries (SolidPower, ProLogium, Amprius, Ganfeng, etc.). However, experts trust only a few manufacturers to achieve this goal in the next few years. “Unlike startups like QuantumScape, CATL has the production capacity and experience to build innovative batteries quickly,” says Fichtner. With regard to the “Condensed Battery”, CATL’s chief developer Wu Kai summarizes: “The battery combines innovative cathode materials with ultra-high energy density, new anode and separator materials with a completely new type of electrolyte”.
Battery research is wondering which cell chemistry is in the “condensed battery”:
– Lithium metal battery?
– Silicon anode?
– Anode-less battery?
– Lithium-Sulfur battery?
If CATL’s announcements come true, the new cell would have 500 Wh/kg, almost twice the energy density of Tesla’s 4680 cells (280 Wh/kg). In this case, luxury cars would soon be able to achieve ranges of 1,500 to 2,000 kilometers. Allegedly, CATL is already testing the battery with aviation companies for use in aircraft. Our podcast guest Prof. Maximilian Fichtner therefore tends to bring a different (and hitherto little noticed!) cell chemistry into play: Are they possibly lithium-sulphur batteries?