Q: What is a solid-state lithium-metal battery?
A: A solid-state lithium-metal battery is a battery that replaces the polymer separator used in conventional lithium-ion batteries with a solid-state separator. The replacement of the separator enables the carbon or silicon anode used in conventional lithium-ion batteries to be replaced with a lithium-metal anode. The lithium metal anode is more energy dense than conventional anodes, allowing the battery to store a greater amount of energy in the same volume. Some solid-state designs use excess lithium to form the anode, but the QuantumScape design is ‘anode-free’ design in that the battery is manufactured anode free in a discharged state, and the anode forms in situ on the first charge.
Q: What are the main benefits of solid-state lithium-metal batteries compared to lithium-ion batteries?
A: Relative to a conventional lithium-ion battery, solid-state lithium-metal battery technology has the potential to increase the cell energy density (by eliminating the carbon or carbon-silicon anode), reduce charge time (by eliminating the charge bottleneck resulting from the need to have lithium diffuse into the carbon particles in conventional lithium-ion cell), prolong life (by eliminating capacity fade that results from the unwanted chemical side reaction between the carbon and liquid electrolyte in conventional lithium-ion cells), improve safety (by eliminating the combustible organic porous separator and organic anolyte material in conventional cells) and lower cost (by eliminating the anode materials and manufacturing costs).
Q: What is the potential for QuantumScape battery technology to increase the range of electric vehicles?
A: The higher energy density of QuantumScape solid-state lithium-metal cells, at our target of 1,000 Wh/L, would translate to more range in electric vehicles, potentially a 50-80% improvement vs today’s leading electric vehicles, depending on the vehicle design. Thus, for example, a vehicle that gets 200 miles of range could get between 300 and 400 miles of range.
Q: Is QuantumScape truly solid-state? Is there a liquid catholyte?
A: Most of the benefits of solid-state stem from the ability to use lithium metal as the anode. Using lithium-metal as the anode requires a solid-state separator that prevents dendrites and does not react with lithium. Once you have such a separator, you can use lithium-metal as the anode and realize the benefits of higher energy density, faster charge, and improved life and safety. QuantumScape has developed such a separator based on its proprietary ceramic material and uses a pure lithium-metal anode with zero excess lithium to deliver the above benefits. QuantumScape couples this solid-state ceramic separator with an organic gel electrolyte for the cathode (catholyte). The ceramic separator also enables our battery design to use a customized catholyte material, better suited for the voltage and transport requirements of the cathode. The requirements for the ceramic separator are different from that of the catholyte. The former requires dendrite resistance and stability to lithium-metal. The latter requires high conductivity (given the thicker cathode), high voltage stability (given the cathode voltage), and the ability to make good contact with the cathode active material particle. It is difficult to find materials that meet both these requirements and attempts to do so often result in a material that meets neither requirement well, resulting in cells that can fail from dendrite formation while also not providing sufficient conductivity to run at high power.
Q: What are the weight and volume benefits of QuantumScape lithium batteries?
A: Specific energy is the term physicists use to refer to gravimetric energy density, i.e., Wh/kg, whereas energy density is the term they use to refer to volumetric energy density. A cell with higher specific energy will save weight in the batteries themselves and provide additional weight savings in the battery system. Less weight in the car from a lighter battery system can then reduce chassis weight, tires, brakes, and more, which can improve vehicle performance and efficiency.
A cell with higher volumetric energy density will reduce the size of the modules and pack. This, too, has follow-on benefits at the system level, requiring fewer connectors and cables, and allowing for safe design of the vehicle with more room for crumple zones, as well more comfort with more room for passengers and cargo.
QuantumScape’s solid-state lithium-metal battery technology is designed to provide both high specific energy and high energy density.
Q: What exactly is different about QuantumScape's separator material?
A: The QuantumScape separator material is a ceramic capable of meeting the key requirements of high conductivity, stability to lithium metal, resistance to dendrite formation, and low interfacial impedance. These are the key requirements to make a lithium-metal anode, which in turn enables high energy density, fast charge, and long life. The ceramic itself is non-combustible, making it safer than conventional polymer separators, which are hydrocarbons and so can burn. The formulation of QuantumScape’s material is proprietary, but it uses earth abundant materials with a continuous-flow manufacturing process, which we believe will make it cost-effective at commercial volumes.
Q: If there is a car accident, how robust is the separator?
A: Ceramics in general are stable to very high temperatures, and our ceramic separator is no exception. In addition, even at very high temperatures, it does not burn (since it is already oxidized), therefore we believe that it will provide a thermally stable barrier between the anode and cathode. Our architecture reduces the fuel content of the cell by removing the conventional polymer separator, graphite and anolyte. Note that we have not completed the development of our multilayer commercial battery cell, and so have not yet conducted safety tests on commercial target batteries and packs.
Q: Has QuantumScape shared cycle life data and if so, what is it?
A: We have tested our single layer cells to over 1,000 charge and discharge cycles and they have maintained approximately 90% capacity. If we are able to generate the same level of performance in our commercial battery cells at the targeted level of energy density, this would be the equivalent of approximately over 300,000 miles for a vehicle with a 300-mile pack, or even greater range given the fact that higher target energy density of the QuantumScape cells (1,000 Wh/L) enables even greater range than 300 miles.
Q: How does QuantumScape think about the ability for other technologies to coexist? What else is out there that can have a place in the market?
A: Solid-state lithium-metal cells offer benefits on many major performance dimensions so we expect they will be very popular with the world’s automakers. However, if we are successful in our development efforts, we believe that the potential demand for our batteries will far outstrips our ability in the short term – and indeed any single vendor’s ability — to produce them. So, we do expect there will be multiple technologies co-existing in the industry for some time to come. When one considers other markets such as stationary storage for the grid and consumer electronics, the market is even bigger, so the world will need all its battery factories producing at full capacity to meet the potential future demand.
Q: What materials are your competitors utilizing to try to enhance EV battery performance?
A: Over the years, people have tried to develop solid-state batteries with materials such as polymers, sulfides, oxides, liquids, and composites (which are a mix of other materials, such as polymers and ceramics). We are not aware of any of these efforts being successful on the metric of delivering long cycle life at high rates of power without requiring elevated temperatures. Most importantly, to our knowledge none of the competing approaches have presented data showing they are able to prevent dendrites (lithium growths that short circuit batteries) at room temperature and automotive current densities. To date, the principal way that these competing approaches have avoided dendrites is by compromising test conditions (i.e. low power, short-cycle life, raising the temperature, etc.). It took us over 10 years, over two million tests, and over $300 million to get to the level of performance we have demonstrated, so we believe this is a very hard problem and will be difficult for competitors to solve. During our development process we also created over 200 patents and applications to protect our unique approach.
This current report contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws and information based on management’s current expectations as of the date of this current report. All statements other than statements of historical fact contained in this current report, including statements regarding the future development of the Company’s battery technology, the anticipated benefits of the Company’s technologies and the performance of its batteries, plans and objectives for future operations, forecasted cash usage, including spending and investment, are forward-looking statements. When used in this current report, the words “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “pro forma,” “expect,” “plan,” “believe,” “potential,” “predict,” “target,” “should,” “would,” “could,” “continue,” “believe,” “project,” “intend,” “anticipates” the negative of such terms and other similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain such identifying words. These forward-looking statements are based on management’s current expectations, assumptions, hopes, beliefs, intentions, and strategies regarding future events and are based on currently available information as to the outcome and timing of future events.
These forward-looking statements involve significant risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results to differ materially from the expected results. Many of these factors are outside the Company’s control and are difficult to predict. Factors that may cause such differences include, but are not limited to ones listed here. The Company faces significant barriers in its attempts to produce a solid-state battery cell and may not be able to successfully develop its solid-state battery cell. Building high volumes of multi-layer cells in the commercial form factor and with higher layer count requires substantial development effort. The Company could encounter significant delays and/or technical challenges in replicating the performance seen in its single-layer cells and early tests of the smaller form factor four-layer cells and in achieving the high yield, reliability, uniformity and performance targets required for commercial production and sale. The Company may encounter delays and other obstacles in acquiring, installing and operating new manufacturing equipment for automated and/or continuous-flow processes, including vendor delays (which we have already experienced) and challenges optimizing complex manufacturing processes. The Company may encounter delays in hiring the engineers it needs to expand its development and production efforts, delays in acquiring the facility for QS-0, and delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Delays in increasing production of engineering samples would slow the Company’s development efforts. The Company may be unable to adequately control the costs associated with its operations and the components necessary to build its solid-state battery cells at competitive prices. The Company’s spending may be higher than currently anticipated. The final closing under the Company’s financing agreement with VW may not occur if the Company does not achieve certain interim technical targets by the end of the quarter. The Company may not be successful in competing in the battery market industry or establishing and maintaining confidence in its long-term business prospectus among current and future partners and customers and the duration and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Company’s business. The Company cautions that the foregoing list of factors is not exclusive. The Company cautions readers not to place undue reliance upon any forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date made.
Except as otherwise required by applicable law, the Company disclaims any duty to update any forward-looking statements. Should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results and projections could differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statements. Additional information concerning these and other factors that could materially affect the Company’s actual results can be found in the Company’s periodic filings with the SEC. The Company’s SEC filings are available publicly on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.