‘Dream all-solid-state battery’ competition, Korea at the forefront

On May 15, LG Science Center in Magok, Seoul, where LG Energy Solutions ( LG Ensol)’s ‘Next Generation Battery Research Center’ is located. After writing a security pledge saying ‘I will not film’, I entered the all-solid-state battery development department called ‘dream battery’ for the first time in domestic and foreign media. Along the narrow corridor, various laboratories continued on both sides. The inside of the laboratory was visible through a floor-to-ceiling window. Inside a laboratory, a researcher was wearing a white dustproof suit from head to toe, and was measuring black powder on a scale. Son Kwon-nam , director of LG Ensol’s next-generation battery research center, explained, “To make electrodes for all-solid-state batteries, active materials, conductive materials, and binders are mixed and weighed.” In another lab, there was a large mixer that could be used in a mill. “The battery process is similar to rice cake making in that it mixes key ingredients well to make slurry (dough),” said Sohn. ion mobility) is increased.” He continued, “All-solid-state batteries will become popular within a few years, and LG will be at the center of it.” LG Ensol is a world-class battery maker. It started developing secondary batteries in 1992 and has held over 27,000 battery patents over the past 31 years. Thanks to this, Korea is leading the secondary battery industry with a rare ‘patent’ vested interest.

Now, the world’s industrial ecosystem is entering a huge storm. It has been a long time since China and India, which stayed in the ‘big market’, turned into powerful technological competitors, and the global supply chain that has been maintained for decades is rapidly being reorganized in the face of the new global phenomenon of the New Cold War, the conflict between the United States and China. The US, EU , and Japan shouted ‘Let’s go back to manufacturing’ and entered an infinite competition pouring huge subsidies. The US attracted 270 trillion won in manufacturing investment after enforcing the Semiconductor Act and IRA (Inflation Reduction Act), and the EU introduced the European Semiconductor Act, which required 62 trillion won.

In this situation, the Korean economy is seeking a new path amid concerns that it is entering a period of low growth due to low birthrate and aging population. This paper sought a solution to the complex crisis of the Korean economy by finding the industrial site of ‘New Engine’, which will be responsible for our future. Most of them are trying to find hope for our economy in the field that is being revealed for the first time. For the series, this paper asked 100 professors of the Korea Academy of Science and Technology, where the nation’s top science and technology scholars gathered, to diagnose Korea’s industrial competitiveness. The scholars evaluated that our major industries such as semiconductors, petrochemicals, and secondary batteries are being chased by China, Taiwan, and Japan, and that we are far behind in future food sources such as artificial intelligence and quantum computers. One scholar said, “Koreans who work like grasshoppers now will never be able to beat the Chinese.” Starting with the all-solid-state battery site, this magazine publishes a series of series that diagnoses international competitiveness by revealing next-generation industrial sites such as eco-friendly ships, autonomous driving, recycled plastics, and SMR (small module reactors).

The 815 trillion battery market is growing bigger than semiconductors… LG, Samsung , SK, and Hyundai Motors all-out war

◇ LG

decided to unveil the world’s first all-solid-state battery development site for working in an ultra-dry laboratory with rubber glovesThe first thing asked of the reporter was ‘security education’ and ‘security memorandum’. After passing through the security checkpoint, they were able to reach the 3rd floor all-solid-state battery development site.

In front of the door to another laboratory for all-solid-state batteries on the third floor, the ‘dew point’, which means the temperature at which dew forms, was written -44.8Td . It means that there is almost no moisture, so it is extremely dry. The ‘sulfide-based all-solid-state battery’ being developed by LG is vulnerable to moisture, so it is said to be tested in such a ‘dry room’. There was a ‘glove box’, a large transparent box with black rubber gloves attached. Researchers who reached into the box through rubber gloves were mixing ingredients to make an all-solid-state battery. It is to work in a space where moisture and dust cannot penetrate. Researcher Kim Na-yoon said, “It is quite inconvenient to wear gloves, but it is rewarding to solve problems on a monthly basis.”

◇Samsung SDI also built an all-solid-state pilot ‘S-line’

Korea’s strengths in the next-generation battery industry are the three companies with global competitiveness such as LG Ensol, Samsung SDI , and SK On, and Hyundai Motor Group, the largest consumer of batteries, also excels in battery development that it is holding

Samsung SDIWe are researching sulfide-based batteries, the ‘mega trend스포츠토토‘ of solid-state batteries, and have set the most challenging goal for all-solid-state batteries among the three Korean companies. At the end of March, it was the first in Korea to have an all-solid-state battery pilot plant named ‘S Line’ at the Suwon Research Center, and it succeeded in producing samples in June. In particular, Samsung is known to have developed the world’s first ‘cathode-free technology’, which makes batteries with only a cathode without a cathode, and blocked the ‘dent light’ phenomenon generated from the cathode. Dentrite is a twig-shaped crystal that grows abnormally on metal surfaces, causing battery fires and shortening its lifespan. Park Kyu -seong, head of the next-generation development team at SDI Research Center (executive director), said, “The goal is to preoccupy core technologies in materials, cells, and processes and start mass production in 2027.” It is similar to 2027-2028, the timing of mass production of all-solid-state batteries proposed by Toyota of Japan.

SK Ondo is rushing to develop an all-solid-state battery with the goal of completing a pilot line in the first half of next year and mass production in 2028. To this end , it decided to invest 470 billion won in R&D at Daejeon Battery Research Institute in April . For technology development, we are actively collaborating with foreign professors as well as overseas startups. Seung-Woo Lee, a professor at Georgia Tech, who developed rubber-type solid electrolyte, and Solid Power, an all-solid-state battery startup that is considered the most advanced in the US, are partners with SK .

Hyundai Motor Company is also working hard to secure its own technology. At the end of 2021, the ‘Battery Development Center’ under the Namyang Research Institute was opened, and it is researching not only battery system and cell design, but also all-solid-state batteries. When it announced its electric vehicle strategy, ‘Hyundai Motorway’ in June, it said it would spend 9.5 trillion won over 10 years on battery performance and development of next-generation battery technology. SNE

Research , a battery research company , predicts that the global electric vehicle battery market will be worth 815 trillion won in 2035. Considering that the size of the semiconductor market last year was 630 trillion won (approximately $480 billion, data from the World Semiconductor Market Statistics Organization), it means that the ‘second semiconductor’ market is opening. ☞All-solid-state battery It is called the ‘dream battery’ that can realize an electric vehicle driving distance of more than 1,000 km with a small capacity. Lithium-ion batteries, which are currently popular, use liquid electrolytes, so when impact or heat is applied, a chemical reaction can cause a fire, and the lifespan is relatively short. On the other hand, all-solid-state batteries do not easily catch fire even if they are deformed because the electrolyte is made solid.

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