Mercedes indicates it will begin testing Factorial's prototype cells as early as 2022, with the eventual goal of integration into vehicle batteries.
Factorial Energy indicates that its solid-state technology can be easily integrated into lithium-ion battery manufacturing infrastructure, making it easier to scale up.
Massachusetts-based start-up Factorial Energy is teaming up with Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis, with the two automakers announcing they are investing in the solid-state battery company . Mercedes says that it has invested a high double-digit million dollar amount into the company, and will start a series of tests with the company as early as 2022.
"These partnerships will accelerate our ability to commercialize our core technology," said Factorial Energy CEO Siyu Huang, Ph.D. "With our new partners, we can develop batteries that not only enable safer and longer driving range vehicles, but that are also compatible with conventional lithium-ion battery manufacturing environments."
The start-up touts a proprietary solid electrolyte material that allows for high-capacity electrodes and reliable and safe cell performance, in place of the mostly liquid lithium-ion technology currently used in EV batteries. Dubbed FEST (Factorial Electrolyte System Technology), the solid electrolyte suppresses lithium dendrite formation on lithium-metal anodes, and is said to be compatible for integration into existing lithium-ion manufacturing infrastructure.
The proprietary electrolyte has been demonstrated to reach the 40 Amp-hour benchmark at room temperature—the first to reach this milestone.
"Our batteries are unique because they achieve the broadest range of OEM performance requirements while offering superior energy density, safety, and scalability," Factorial Energy Executive Chairman Joe Taylor said earlier this year. "Our technology can be easily integrated into existing lithium-ion battery manufacturing infrastructure—which makes Factorial an immediately viable partner for every automaker pursuing EVs."
Besides the added safety of a solid electrolyte, the material is said to offer greater energy density, promising to significantly increase EV range, offering improvements from 20% to 50%.
A number of automakers and suppliers have been working on solid-state battery technology, with several promising to introduce it in vehicles in this decade, including Nissan with plans for a 2028 rollout announced earlier this week. But overall progress by several developers has been painfully slow over the past decade—progress that become intertwined with making EVs truly mainstream—rather than perpetually accounting for less than 10% of the passenger vehicle market in most EV-friendly countries.
"For electric vehicles to capture more than just 4% of global car sales, buyers need to see dramatic price and performance improvements in the underlying battery systems. Factorial's solid-state battery technology offers the performance, safety, scalability, and commercial readiness needed to move the needle of EV adoption," Huang said earlier this year.
Factorial is one of several developers that major automakers have staked, with lithium-ion battery development appearing to have a reached a limit, but it's also a field of research and development that has already seen some high-profile flameouts. If the past decade was all about demonstrating the promise of EVs to a small segment of early adopters, this decade could well turn out to be about the race to put solid-state batteries into EVs.