One of China’s largest motoring firms, Dongfeng Motor Corporation, has delivered fifty electric vehicles (EVs) powered by the firm’s solid-state battery, for demonstration.
Often referred to as the ‘Holy Grail’ of EV technologies, solid-state batteries are significantly more efficient than traditional liquid-electrolyte power units.
The EV, Dongfeng’s E70 model, is the first to house the state-of-the-art, solid-state lithium battery, developed and manufactured by joint venture partners, Dongfeng Technology Center and Ganfeng Lithium.
Although they have collaborated since 2019, the pair agreed to a formal strategic cooperation deal last year. According to Car News China, Dongfeng will showcase its EVs in Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangzhou provinces.
Scientists and engineers have viewed solid-state batteries as a viable option for EV power units but to date, no companies have successfully mass-produced an EV equipped with one.
The demonstration marked the start of solid-state battery industrialisation, said company representatives at Dongfeng.
While advancements in traditional liquid-electrolyte lithium-ion battery chemistry and layout have improved their performance significantly, solid-state batteries solve many of the problems posed by lithium-ion units.
Unlike liquid-electrolyte, solid-state batteries employ a ceramic or glass conductor instead of liquids such as lithium salt in an organic solvent.
Substituting the ceramic compound in place of liquids increases the energy density of the battery dramatically. Increasing energy density boosts the range of the battery significantly while also reducing charge times.
Examples of solid-state batteries in the past have also been less heavy than their liquid-cantered counterparts. With some battery packs in EVs are weighing up to 500kg, this is a huge upside.
Liquid-electrolyte batteries also have an unfortunate habit of combusting on occasion. Fortunately, solid-state batteries do not contain the volatile substances found in lithium-ion liquid batteries.
EV owners, however, should not be overly concerned. Statistics released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) indicate traditional fossil-fuel-powered vehicles are far more likely to catch fire than EVs.
According to the NTSB, EVs combust at a rate of just over 25 units per 100 000. The same study observed the occurrence in hybrid and gasoline vehicles as 3 475 and 1 529 respectively.
Chinese state media reported that Ganfeng Lithium had already subjected the battery to rigorous testing. According to Car News China, the next-generation power unit had passed puncture tests, structural and mechanical deformation, as well as an underwater test.
Dongfeng, which also has joint ventures with Japanese automotive giants Nissan and Honda, did not specify when it would release the E70 to market.
NIO, another Chinese EV manufacturer, had promised solid-state EVs in early 2021 but have now revised that to the last quarter of 2022.