Battery startup QuantumScape has set its sights on tripling the range of most electric cars using solid state technology licensed from Stanford University. Tests demonstrating whether the new system is viable for use in electric vehicles are due to be completed in mid-2015. Solid state batteries have the added advantage of being fire-proof.
QuantumScape is an early-stage startup founded and led by Infinera co-founder and CEO Jagdeep Singh, and is backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Khosla Ventures. The technology uses a new method for stacking trace amounts of materials together, which can lead to high energy and power densities, and also higher cycle life than traditional lithium ion batteries.
The Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program awarded grant funding to the stealthy firm back in 2011:
This novel battery stores energy by moving electrons, rather than ions, and uses electron/hole redox instead of capacitive polarization of a double-layer. This technology uses a novel architecture that has potential for very high energy density because it decouples the two functions of capacitors: charge separation and breakdown strength. If successful, this project will develop a completely new paradigm in energy storage for electric vehicles that could revolutionize the electric vehicle industry.
Volkswagen of America has reportedly purchased a 5 percent holding in QuantumScape with options to raise its share. Germany-base VW has refused to comment on any investments citing the private nature of its short term financial plans. However, on November 6th, VW Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn told students at Stanford University, “I see great potential in this new technology, possibly boosting the range to as much as 700 kilometers." [434 miles]
Winterhorn also told students, “Electro-chemistry is a field of the greatest importance internationally and across industries,” and is “a field where we can and must achieve progress.” In July, he indicated VW had invested in a battery-technology company without providing details.