SVOLT, the battery cell maker that emerged from the Chinese automaker Great Wall, has announced new lithium-ion cells that will use safety technology from Soteria Battery Innovation Group (BIG) for the first time. The market launch of these cells is planned for the third quarter of 2021.
The technology eliminates the root cause of thermal runaway, where the electrolyte in the cell ignites and potentially causes a fire, according to a statement from SVOLT. SVOLT aims to manufacture cells with NMC-811 chemistry using materials licensed from Soteria BIG. So this is not about the company first cobalt-free battery cells, which will roll off the assembly line in June this year.
The Soteria Battery Innovation Group is based in the US state of South Carolina. The company, founded in 2017, describes itself as an open consortium of companies that want to license their own developed materials and production methods to as many cell manufacturers as possible. According to Soteria, the technology is compatible with various chemicals such as NMC811, NMC523, NMC622, LFP and LCO. The goal is to convert lithium battery materials from the existing dangerous and heavy architecture to the safer and lighter Soteria architecture, Soteria BIG informs on its homepage. The consortium is aiming for a market share of 25% by 2030. In addition to SVOLT, Soteria lists a number of companies as members on its website, including the battery manufacturers Saft, Xalt Energy, Customcells and Britishvolt, as well as Voith. Bosch and Rimac.
Soteria has posted several videos on the technology itself. The consortium relies on an innovative paper-based separator material that alone is supposed to withstand temperatures of up to 300 degrees and, supplemented by aramid fibers, up to 550 degrees. The material burns but does not melt, so it continues to do its job of separating anode and cathode, they say. The anode and the cathode itself are covered with metallized plastic film (the anode uses aluminum, the cathode copper as a metallic additive). According to Soteria BIG, when exposed to excessive heat, the thin metallized plastic film melts in the area where it is affected and acts as a fuse in the area where the defect occurred. This means that the battery continues to work even after it is damaged.
According to SVOLT, in addition to the safety aspect, the technology can also improve energy density and weight. Specially announced are optimized bag cells with 5Ah, 10Ah, 20Ah and 60Ah as well as prismatic 60Ah cells for fully electric vehicles and aircraft. “SVOLT has produced high-quality NMC 811 cells with our materials, which have an extraordinary abuse tolerance,” explains Carl Hu, CTO at Soteria BIG. “When Soteria Battery Innovation Group releases its safety certification standard, we expect SVOLT cells to be the first to pass this standard.” The background to this is that Soteria plans to develop “a series of aggressive test standards” that will be “used in electronics, electric vehicles, energy storage systems and the entire lithium-ion battery industry”.
The fact that SVOLT is now expected to be the first group to implement the technology is related to the manufacturer’s early interest in the consortium. SVOLT is “a founding member of our consortium in China,” says Soteria BIG.
The spin-off of the Great Wall of China aims to have a global production capacity of 200 GWh and seven research and development centers worldwide by 2025. With that in mind, the company announced in February that it would Expansion of production capacities in China. New factories with an annual capacity of 20 GWh each are planned in Huzhou in the Chinese province of Zhejiang and in Suining in the province of Sichuan.
In November 2020, SVOLT had also announced its intention to build one Battery cell factory with a capacity of 24 GWh in Germany. Cell production is scheduled to begin at the end of 2o23, and modules and packs are also to be assembled from the battery cells at another location in Saarland. According to an announcement made in 2020, the Chinese company plans to invest a total of up to two billion euros in the state for the two locations, and up to 2,000 jobs are to be created in the final expansion phase.
In the meantime, SVOLT has put a lot of development work into the production of cobalt-free cells. A few days earlier, Mass production of the cobalt-free cathode material for the company’s NMX battery cells began in Jintan, China. The cobalt-free battery cells based on this are to be manufactured from June. The Chinese battery cell manufacturer announced the cobalt-free cells for the first time in 2019 and provided the first information in May 2020. The first cell variants have been available for order since mid-December.