Solid-state battery technology accelerates the introduction of new energy commercial vehicles or welcomes new breakthroughs


Li Yanan


The "hot air" of solid-state batteries has finally blown into the field of commercial vehicles.


Recently, the news of accelerating the industrialization of solid-state batteries in the commercial vehicle industry has been pouring in. First, FAW Jiefang announced to build a strategic alliance with Funeng Technology, and the two sides will work together to promote the semi-solid and solid state battery commercial vehicle market and industrial chain development; Subsequently, Foton Automobile revealed in the interactive platform that it is carrying out the technology development and testing of semi-solid state batteries on light trucks.


So, what is the application prospect of solid-state batteries in the field of commercial vehicles?


The advantages are not small to drive the technological upgrading of new energy commercial vehicles


The power battery is the hardware "heart" of electric vehicles, and every innovation and breakthrough in its technology can cause major changes in the industry pattern. At present, the new energy vehicle power battery market is mainly dominated by liquid lithium electrolyte batteries, after years of technological development, its potential has been deeply tapped, and the performance of key materials has been close to the theoretical limit, but it is still difficult to meet the increasing high-performance needs of users.


In this context, the market is urgently looking forward to revolutionary breakthroughs in battery technology. After the unremitting exploration of the industry and related enterprises, solid-state batteries have gradually emerged and are regarded as an important direction for lithium-ion battery upgrades. Ouyang Minggao, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has publicly said that all-solid-state batteries are one of the preferred solutions for the next generation of batteries, and they are also the key commanding heights of the next generation of battery technology competition.


Solid-state batteries are highly expected by the whole industry, and even regarded as the ultimate solution for power batteries, mainly because they have excellent performance advantages, and theoretically can perfectly avoid all the pain points of liquid batteries.


The first is high security. Different from the liquid electrolyte used in traditional lithium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries use solid electrolytes to conduct ions, and do not contain flammable, explosive, volatile and other components, fundamentally solving the key safety risks of liquid batteries; The second is high energy density. Solid electrolytes are more stable and have a higher electrochemical window, which can be matched with higher energy positive and negative active materials, thus significantly increasing the energy density, with a theoretical upper limit of up to 500Wh/kg, much higher than the 350Wh/kg of liquid batteries. In addition, the all-solid-state battery has a wider temperature range, and the driving ability is almost not affected by changes in ambient temperature.


As a new type of battery technology, solid-state batteries conform to the development trend of lithium batteries in pursuit of higher performance and safety, and have many advantages such as fast charging speed and good cycle performance, which is not only expected to open up new development space in the field of passenger cars, but also highly fit with the urgent demand for high-performance batteries in new energy commercial vehicles.


In this regard, some industry experts pointed out that compared with passenger cars, commercial vehicles have many types of products, rich scenes, complex working conditions, and higher innovation requirements for power battery technology, in addition to meeting the basic needs of high safety and long driving range, but also need to have the characteristics of fast energy, wide temperature range, low energy consumption, strong power and light weight. With its excellent performance indicators, solid-state batteries are expected to better solve the current pain points in the industry and provide new ideas for the development of new energy commercial vehicle technology.


The relevant person in charge of FAW Liberation said that compared with traditional liquid batteries, solid-state batteries have significant advantages in terms of charging speed, energy density and safety. Recently, a number of commercial vehicle enterprises to carry out semi-solid and solid state battery research and development and testing, will undoubtedly promote the new energy commercial vehicle technology level to achieve leapfrog development, and then promote commercial vehicles to accelerate the transformation to electrification.



The difficulty of mass production applications is still facing many constraints


Today, solid-state batteries have become the focus of competition in the field of global power batteries, and the relevant domestic industry chain is actively deployed, not only to speed up the research and development progress of solid-state batteries, but also to put its loading and mass production on the agenda. Looking to the future, the development prospects of solid-state batteries are undoubtedly worth looking forward to.


According to industry forecasts, the global demand for solid-state batteries (including semi-solid-state batteries) is expected to reach 2.3GWh in 2024; It is expected to increase to 220GWh by 2030. During this period, the average annual compound growth rate is expected to be as high as 114%, and the corresponding market size will also be significantly increased, which is expected to reach 1.95 billion yuan in 2024 and climb to 116.23 billion yuan in 2030.


With the promotion of more production projects and the deepening of cooperation, the importance of solid-state batteries in the field of commercial vehicles will become increasingly prominent. However, from the current situation, the commercialization process of solid-state batteries still needs some time, and many problems need to be overcome to achieve promotion and application.


"In recent years, the innovative research and development of solid-state batteries has achieved remarkable results, and the industry has also set off a wave of mass production loading, fully showing the trend of its industrialization." But at the same time, we should also be soberly aware that most of the current applications are semi-solid batteries, and they are still in the stage of sample vehicles or small batch demonstration operations, and all-solid-state batteries have not yet achieved the leap from laboratory to mass production applications." Cao Guangping, a consulting partner of the driver, told reporters that although solid-state batteries have the advantages of thin electrolytes and high energy density, they still need to be gradually broken through in terms of interface impedance, battery life, expansion characteristics, production processes and product prices, and the possibility of commercialization in the short term is relatively small.


According to reports, the transformation from liquid batteries to semi-solid and all-solid batteries is the key to electrolyte innovation, which is extremely challenging from the point of view of technology, cost and manufacturing process. At the technical level, the core problems of solid electrolyte such as ion transport mechanism, lithium dendrite growth mechanism and multi-field coupling failure runaway mechanism need to be solved. At the same time, for commercial vehicles with production tool properties, the charging speed and cycle life of solid-state batteries also need to be further improved; In terms of cost, due to the use of high-purity materials and advanced technology in the manufacturing process, and the complexity of the process, the production cost is high, which limits the mass production of solid-state batteries to a certain extent. In addition, the upstream and downstream industrial chain of solid-state batteries is not perfect, and the recycling problem also needs to be solved.


It can be seen that the commercial application of solid-state batteries in commercial vehicles and even the entire automotive field still faces many challenges, which requires relevant enterprises to continue to increase technology research and development efforts, and strive to reduce production costs. According to the time planning of mainstream car companies and battery manufacturers, the solid state battery mass production node is roughly around 2030. However, at present, the future mass production progress of solid-state batteries is still full of uncertainty, and it is difficult to predict whether the commercialization can be achieved as scheduled. In this case, semi-solid-state batteries, as an intermediate product for the transition from liquid batteries to all-solid-state batteries, are becoming the focus of enterprises competing to layout, and are expected to take the lead in realizing industrialization in the field of commercial vehicles.


New energy technology paths for commercial vehicles tend to be diversified


As an emerging power battery choice, the industrialization of solid-state batteries still needs time to accumulate and precipitate. Although the distance to achieve the ultimate goal is still "road resistance and long", but with the continuous breakthrough of technology and the gradual reduction of costs, the popularity of solid-state batteries will eventually be "line".


By then, the driving range of new energy commercial vehicles is expected to be significantly improved, while charging speed is faster, safety is higher, and service life will be significantly extended. This change will bring unprecedented development opportunities for the new energy commercial vehicle industry, and promote the electrification of commercial vehicles from traditional liquid batteries to a new era of solid state batteries. At the same time, the existing diversified power and fuel solutions of the commercial vehicle industry will also coexist and advance together to help the transformation and upgrading of the commercial vehicle industry.


Nowadays, many companies have accelerated the layout in the field of solid-state batteries, and the next power battery "beach landing war" will become more intense. Commercial vehicles as an important part of the new energy of automobiles, enterprises in the industrial chain should seize a new round of opportunities to actively promote the development and commercialization of solid-state batteries.


This time, the active attempt of FAW Jiefang and Foton Automobile is a microcosm of the development of commercial vehicle electrification. The two sides will give full play to their advantages in technology and market, promote the application of solid-state batteries in the field of commercial vehicles, and inject strong impetus into the transformation and upgrading of the industry. In view of the current semi-solid battery has initially achieved results, the future or more enterprises will face the difficulties, brave the all-solid-state battery technology "Everest", for the development of new energy commercial vehicle industry to bring more help.


Originally published by China Automotive News, April 23, 2024