A US-based 3D printing startup called Sakuu is developing 3D printed solid-state batteries with the help of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Auto manufacturers are investing in companies like QuantumScape, Sakuu, and Solid Power to expedite the development of solid-state batteries that will have higher energy density and will be safer than lithium-ion designs.
A study conducted earlier this year by MIT revealed that the prices of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries have fallen by 97 percent since their introduction 30 years ago, and estimated that Li-ion battery manufacturing will have tripled by 2025 and the price per kilowatt-hour will drop below $100.
This decrease in the price of batteries has steered the automotive sector towards electric vehicles but price alone is not the sole factor as buyers demand safety as well. Hence, the researchers are working to develop ways to make Li-ion batteries safer while improving energy density.
Sakuu claims to be developing a Lithium metal solid-state battery and said that it offers better performance than the currently-used Li-ion batteries. It added that its battery cell has a capacity of 3 Ampere-hour (Ah) and is made from additive manufacturing technology (3D printing).
The startup also revealed that its focus for the first generation cell is to minimize the volume of all the elements with the use of a binding jet printing process developed by MIT. It said that the process will help it deposit thin layers of metal and ceramic in a single build.
The process is slow but the result of these batteries being half the size and one-third the weight of traditional Li-ion batteries is a significant achievement.
Sakuu has plans for the mass production of the batteries in early 2022 and is working on higher voltage cathodes that will boost their energy density by 25 percent. Initially, the capacity of the battery will be a modest 1 GigaWatt-hour (GWh) but if achieved, it will be a milestone in the commercialization of solid-state batteries.