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Samsung, Posco make foray into solid-state batteries

A visual image concept of an electric vehicle charging (123rf)
A visual image concept of an electric vehicle charging (123rf)
South Korean conglomerates Samsung and Posco on Monday each announced plans to build production lines of solid-state batteries, an up-and-coming technology in making fireproof and energy-dense lithium-ion batteries that can boost electric vehicle range.

Samsung SDI, a battery arm of Korea’s largest conglomerate by assets, said the company has started the construction of a 6,500-square-meter pilot assembly line for manufacturing solid-state batteries that power electric cars in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province. The company did not unveil when the construction is scheduled to be completed.

Under the plan, Samsung SDI will introduce facilities and a system to produce solid electrolytes and metal cathodes.

If the electrolyte -- a core material to conduct electricity via dissolved ion in lithium-ion batteries -- is in a solid state, it becomes inflammable, unlike in a liquid state, making the batteries safer. Also, metal cathodes boast higher energy density compared with cathodes using graphite or silicon.

Moreover, the solid electrolyte itself acts as a separator of lithium-ion batteries, eliminating the need for a discrete separator, one of the four major components of batteries along with electrolytes, cathodes and anodes.

With the new facility, Samsung SDI also looks to adopt a new production method and infrastructure such as assembling battery cells in a way that allows ions to move smoothly during charging.

“The new S-line will be the stepping stone to make Samsung SDI as the true No. 1 company via ‘super-gap’ technological competitiveness, superior quality and qualitative growth that prioritizes profitability,” Choi Yoon-ho, chief executive officer of Samsung SDI, said in a statement.

On the same day, Posco Group also announced a new solid-state battery facility in the city of Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province.

Posco said in a statement that the new facility will manufacture 24 metric tons of solid electrolytes each year from the second half of 2022, as the solid-state battery market is estimated to mature starting 2030.

The new facility will be partially backed by Posco Holdings, the group’s holding firm spun off from the steelmaker earlier in March.

Prior to the spinoff, Posco Holdings invested 25.8 billion won ($20.8 million) in February to set up a joint venture with domestic component maker Jeong Kwan for the facility, the steelmaker said.

On the sidelines, Posco aims to produce 680,000 tons of anodes and cathodes combined from 2030 annually.

(consnow@heraldcorp.com)
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