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The all-solid-state battery: the future of electromobility?

50% increased energy density for a dramatically increased range and a recharge time of about ten minutes…In the press, it’s all about one-upmanship. Manufacturers of all-solid-state cells are announcing their incredible results one after the other, tempting investors to bet everything on this “technology of the future”.

Is this a real technological breakthrough or are we heading for disappointment? Should we wait for these “super batteries” to become available before making the switch to fully electric vehicles?

Aymeric Derville, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Forsee Power, is here to answer these questions.

#1 – There’s been a lot of talk about “all-solid-state” batteries in recent months. But are they as interesting as we’re led to believe?

Yes, there has been a lot of talk about “all-solid-state” batteries. This technology is definitely interesting. After all, it’s very promising on paper.

A number of stakeholders have firmly positioned themselves in favour of this new technology and are announcing unprecedented results in terms of energy density and charging speed. Some manufacturers say that these batteries would make it possible to drastically reduce vehicle charging times while simultaneously increasing their range. All-solid-state batteries would also be safer since they’re less flammable… they have some really promising characteristics! However, we must remain cautious: this is all conditional at present and their effectiveness still needs to be proven through mass use under real conditions.

#2 –Is Forsee Power interested in this technology?

Of course, just as we’re interested in all battery technologies that would further optimise the performance of heavy electric vehicles (buses, trucks, non-road vehicles, etc.).

When designing a battery system, our experts select the latest and most efficient cells on the market whilst taking into account safety, space, and weight requirements.

But we also consider the costs, availability and reliability of the cells used. Cells constitute just one part of a whole: once the technology has been chosen, we must then assemble the cells, add the various components (sensors, conductors), develop the electronic battery management system (BMS) which ensures communication, safety, and life of the battery, integrate the thermal management of each component and then finally protect it all in a suitable case.

The selection of the best cells (and the best suppliers) is therefore only one aspect of our expertise.

#3 – Do you plan on using this technology?

All-solid-state batteries look promising, but they’re only prototypes right now.

There’s currently no convincing large-scale application of this technology that meets the new requirements of electromobility, nor is there a robust production chain. As such, the question of implementing it doesn’t arise.

We still don’t have much experience with this new technology. It’s difficult to predict the actual performance, cost, reliability and safety of these cells in heavy-duty vehicle batteries. Barring a major innovation (and we’re always ready for good news!) I don’t think Forsee Power will be using these cells for at least 5 years – which is an eternity in the world of electromobility!

Although we’ll be keeping an eye on all-solid-state batteries, we prefer to rely on mature technologies (NMC and LTO in particular) that are constantly evolving (energy density, charging speed…). This allows us to meet our customers’ needs whilst continuing to innovate in terms of modules, packs and battery systems.

#4 – Could all-solid-state batteries be an attractive solution for the lorry market?

At the moment these types of cells are mainly envisaged for light vehicles or vehicles with a short range. Volkswagen, for example, has invested heavily in all-solid-state technology for its passenger cars. This technology is also used in the small “BlueCar” city cars, which have limited speeds and short range…

Can we improve the performance and reliability of all-solid-state batteries whilst keeping the price reasonable? It’s impossible to tell… at least not today. But if this technology lives up to the hype, it could be an extra resource to help us better meet the needs of each type of vehicle and its function in the coming years.