Tesla's Next Battery?

Discussion in 'Tesla' started by Roy_H, Feb 6, 2019.

  1. Roy_H

    Roy_H Active Member

    In the last few days we have heard about a Tesla patent by professor Jeff Dahn to make batteries cheaper and more robust. Some time ago Elon was suggesting that Tesla would achieve a significant battery improvement including about 30% to 60% increase in energy density sometime in early 2019. And now Tesla is buying Maxwell at what I think is a high price, but since it is just a small dilution of Tesla shares, it can be considered as free.

    Maxwell has a patent for making electrodes higher quality with lower material cost. They also claim a simplified manufacturing cost, but there does seem to be a long heating cycle that could raise manufacturing cost. Is all this related? That is we know the Tesla patent is about a year and a half old so it could conceivably be ready to implement now. How long has Tesla been following the Maxwell progress? The optimistic side of me thinks that it must be a long time. It would make sense to be working on duplicating their process and verifying its claims before committing to buy at $218M.

    Are these two patents synergistic? I am not a chemical engineer, so I can't answer that but I think it is probable. Both patents point to lower cost, higher reliability, and efficiency. They do not claim higher energy density. Neither do they claim they are solid state. I believe Tesla has been following Professor Goodenough's solid state lithium battery progress so they should have some expertise in this field too. Solid State batteries are claimed to be much safer and also higher density. Is Maxwell's dry electrode patent applicable to Goodenough's solid state design? There has been a lot of talk and demonstration of solid state batteries made in small quantities in labs, but there is only one company that has scaled this up to production level and they are aiming at a high price low volume market. What many companies in the field are trying to do is make solid state batteries in a high speed manufacturing process at low cost.

    Is my imagination making a tenuous connection and stretching it too far? Maybe, but there is more to consider, Elon has stated that the battery cost must come down significantly to make the $35k Model 3 profitable and that this should be introduced this spring or summer. The only way I can imagine Tesla stuffing 200kwHr into the Tesla Roadster is with a significant improvement in battery energy density. The current suggestion that this is accomplished by a double height battery in the floor of this very low sports car just doesn't ring true to me. Higher energy density in general also means lower cost because you use less material to get the same energy, as long as these materials are equal to or lower cost than the lithium-ion design they are replacing, then the price per kwHr goes down.

    I know some of you are saying 'but Tesla doesn't make batteries, Panasonic does'. Well, yes, but they work closely together on design so all of my suggestion above would apply to Panasonic's battery production line at Gigafactory 1 and not transferable to other Panasonic factories without Tesla's agreement.

    So to recap, the Maxwell patent is about reducing cost of manufacturing process and gaining product purity as well. Dahn's patent is about reducing cost and gaining robustness that translates to more charge cycles and Goodenough's is about increasing energy density and safety. Is all this coming together in 3 to 5 months at Tesla's Gigafactory? If it is, then Tesla will have made another leap ahead of the competition and proving once again they are a moving target.
  2. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Once upon a time, I was a fan of Panasonic until they walked away from consumer goods. They have clever engineers and chemists but it sounds like they've not kept up with the Canadian and USA teams. Sounds like what happened to the Volt (and likely the Bolt.)
    Shuuussshhh! We don't want the 'shorts' to wake up:

    Bob Wilson
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
  3. gooki

    gooki Active Member

    If you look back at the Tesla semi announcement, the maximum range changed from 500 to 600 miles in a short space of time.

    I can only see two explainations for this.

    1. They found more room to cram in more batteries.

    2. They successfully validated a new battery.

    This 20% increases corolates well to Maxwell's claim of energy density increase from 250 to 300 kwh/kg.

    You are correct Tesla will have been in discussion with Maxwell for some time before this announcement. Acquisition my have been the only solution if Maxwell weren't willing to licence their manufacturing process (understandable), and couldn't scale manufacturing to the quantity required by Tesla.
    bwilson4web likes this.

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