QuantumScape says it has developed a new battery technology that could be utilized in EVs by 2025, and it has more advantages over lithium-ion. (Image Credit: QuantumScape)


QuantumScape, a 10-year old startup based in California, says it has resolved issues with lithium. Volkswagen is expected to use pure metallic lithium in car batteries by 2025. QuantumScape also announced that it would be going public using a SPAC to list on the New York Stock Exchange in the fourth quarter. The post-listing valuation is expected to be worth $4.3 billion.


Volkswagen confirmed the battery breakthrough, but there is still work to be done by QuantumScape. The startup will need to scale up a laboratory-based cell into a multi-layer battery, which could cause a few other problems in the process. If these claims work out, it could put both Volkswagen and QuantumScape into a massive competitive lead in the battery and EV industries.


The biggest challenge with lithium metal is that it has the tendency to go through strong, violent chemical reactions with almost every known material. Around 99.9% of materials go through a chemical reaction once they get in contact with lithium metal. The majority of those reactions continually reproduce without passivation. The reaction rarely passivates, which would produce a kinetically stable surface on the lithium metal. Only 0.1% of materials are thermodynamically stable when it comes in contact with lithium metal. Utilizing these materials will ensure the lithium metal’s surface is protected while making the battery durable.


Exactly how the issue was resolved is a mystery, but Jagdeep Singh, CEO of QuantumScape, says that the scientists discovered a new material that solved most of the problem. However, there were hundreds of obstacles the team had to overcome to make the battery operable. Singh also says he expects a lot more competition now that his company has gained more attention with this new battery technology.                     


A solid-state battery is capable of increasing the range of the E-Golf to 750 kilometers compared to the current 300 kilometers. This battery technology has more advantages than today’s lithium-ion. That includes higher energy density, improved safety, better faster-charging capability, and they take up a lot less space. 


Volkswagen began its collaboration with QuantumScape in 2012 and said it has tested sample battery cells capable of performing at automotive rates of power. Even with over eight years of development and considerable funding, it could take another seven years of a joint venture between Volkswagen and QuantumScape to get it into full production. The 2025 target for QuantumScape-electrified power trains shows just how challenging it is to bring a new battery technology to full industrial production.


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