The automotive industry has high hopes for the promising solid-state batteries. Volkswagen, for example, hoped that its cooperation with QuantumScape would result in an e-Golf with a range of 750 kilometres by 2025. But despite decades of research and billions in investment, the development of the new battery remains a complicated endeavour. The investment bank Goldman Sachs does not expect commercial production of QuantumScape batteries until the second half of the decade.
Investor interest in the technology has therefore waned, says Jeff Peters from Ibex Investors. According to data from PitchBook, global venture capital investment in research-based companies fell to 146 million dollars (134 million euros) in 2023, after rising to more than half a billion dollars in the previous five years. “Many promises have not been kept, and several car manufacturers and investors have burnt their fingers,” says Rory McNulty from the consultancy firm Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. There is a lot of well-documented data and technology, but it remains to be seen whether the industry can implement this reliably and on a large scale.
Last year, Japanese car manufacturer Toyota announced a technological breakthrough that would enable mass production from 2027/28. A top-of-the-range model with a range of 1,000 kilometres is planned. The solid-state battery would even manage 1,200 kilometres at a stretch when fully charged, which should only take ten minutes. However, the current schedule is already two years behind the original target.
Other companies such as the Chinese battery giant CATL, the South Korean battery manufacturer LG Energy Solution, the US company Solid Power, ProLogium from China and the Japanese car manufacturers Nissan and Honda also want to introduce solid-state batteries. E-car pioneer Tesla remains an outlier in the industry and has not yet revealed any plans for the development of the new battery type. The initial euphoria has now given way to sober realism: “We still have a lot of work ahead of us,” admits QuantumScape boss Jagdeep Singh.
Battery research in Green Tech Valley
Intensive research into the battery solutions of the future – particularly in the automotive and high-energy storage sectors – is also being conducted in Green Tech Valley:
For example, at the specially installed Christian Doppler Laboratory for Solid State Batteries at Graz University of Technology, which was opened almost three years ago together with corporate partner AVL.
The Valley start-up Kite Rise Technologies has set itself the goal of developing new battery solutions in the field of stationary storage systems to create a new generation of storage systems with the highest standards of safety, sustainability and performance.
Samsung SDI Battery Systems is working on state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery systems at the Kalsdorf Technology Centre. Two years ago, the Korean parent company broke ground for a solid-state battery research centre near Seoul; according to media reports, the launch is scheduled for this spring.
There is talk of another revolution in redox flow batteries (Indepent: “Redox flow battery could prove crucial for full transition to renewable energy sources”). Researchers in Green Tech Valley are also playing a pioneering role here: an international project at Graz University of Technology is now developing an AI-optimised prototype of an environmentally friendly electricity storage system based on vanillin, which has been made usable for electricity storage.