Solid Power, which develops automotive battery technologies, is set to go public via a special purpose acquisition merger with Decarbonization Plus Acquisition III (NASDAQ:DCRC). In this Fool Live video clip, recorded on Oct. 18, Fool.com contributor John Rosevear breaks down what Solid Power does and why the stock is on his radar — and gives investors a lesson in solid state battery technology in the process.
John Rosevear: The first company, the name of the company is Solid Power. It’s currently in a SPAC deal. The SPAC merger will be completed in the fourth quarter. The SPAC is named Decarbonization Plus Acquisition III, a truly spacky SPAC name, if you ask me. The ticker is DCRC, Nasdaq. If you’re looking for it later, that’s it. What Solid Power is doing if you looked at QuantumScape (NYSE:QS) at all, that was a popular stock to talk about and buy and invest in last year. If you looked at QuantumScape at all, you know something about solid state batteries, but if you don’t want, here’s why they’re important.
This is the Holy Grail technology or at least seen as a significant step forward for electric vehicles that will make them safer, they’ll be able to recharge faster and so forth. We can get into the tech here a little bit. I will try not to bore you with this. Briefly, today’s lithium-ion battery cells have three pieces. There’s a cathode that contains lithium and other metals, an anode that contains carbon, sometimes silicon as well, and a separator, that’s a porous polymer usually in current technology, there’s also a liquid called and electrolyte, which is usually lithium dissolved in a solvent, lithium salt. The idea here is when you charge a battery, lithium ions are driven from the cathode to the anode.
QuantumScape’s CEO has a great way of explaining this. It’s like metal balls being driven up a hill. You push them up the hill and then they’re held at the top of the hill in the anode until the battery is discharged, which frees the ions to roll back down the hill and releases energy, in this case, in the form of electricity. The scienc is more complex, battery science is fiendishly complex and it moves very slowly if you’re familiar with any other tech where you think in terms of months or quarters for new technologies; in batteries, we think in decades. It can make these really frustrating investments.
There are four things to know about lithium-ion battery cells right now as they apply to electric cars. Up in that anode, up at the top of the hill, it takes six carbon atoms to hold one lithium atom. That’s why current batteries are heavy. It takes time for the lithium atoms to diffuse into the carbon, meaning to settle down at the top of the hill. This is why recharging takes a while. There’s a chemical reaction that consumes a little bit of the lithium on every charge-discharge cycle, one or two of the little steel balls get lost somewhere. This is why batteries lose capacity over time. The last, but not least, the liquid electrolyte and the polymer separator are both combustible. This is why electric vehicle fires happen and why there’s such a pain to put out.
Solid-state batteries, the idea is they address all four of those problems by replacing the carbon …….