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Tesla claims it can drive battery costs down even lower with new material science innovations


Amid a packed day of announcements from Tesla around inventions the organization is pursuing to slash the expense of electric vehicle production and energy storage through improved battery design, the company said it’s made new improvements in material science for anodes and cathodes — important elements of the lithium-ion batteries which are the core of all of its own goods.

Tesla chose an all-of-the-above method of enhancing its battery in the manufacturing process that is still under development into the materials used in cathode and anode, the simple building blocks of virtually any battery system.

The upshot: a decrease in cost of these cathode and anode materials, while boosting operation that in its own might extend the range of its batteries by 20%, Tesla stated.

On the anode side, the company is looking at ways to incorporate more silicon to its batteries using metallurgical steel. One of the most abundant materials in the world, most of the silicon used in microchipsbatteries, and even solar panels has been processed using expensive treatments to make it function for different applications. With batteries, the issue is the propensity to degrade when it’s completely charged with lithium.

“With siliconthe cookie cutter and has gooey,” said Elon Musk during the company’s “battery ” presentation. That gooeyness means the substance loses its energy storage and retention capacity. Every time a battery costs, the degradation means shorter life cycles to battery.

That’s why many companies use some sort of treatment on silicon to make the material hardier — or utilize as little silicon as you can in their own batteries. “They enable some of the benefits of silicon, but they don’t allow it all and also they ’re not scalable ,” said Andrew Baglino, the company’s SVP of both powertrain and energy technology.

Rather than throwing the silicon out, Tesla said it is working with a brand new treatment method which may take cheap, metallurgical grade silicon and also then integrate that into its brand new battery designs.

“What we’re proposing is a step-change in capability and also a step-change in cost and also to go to the raw metallurgical metal itself,” said Baglino. “Design in order for it to enlarge [and] consider it in the electrode layout … If you employ simple silicon it is less than the silicon that is used in batteries today.

Baglino anticipates that using new treatment procedures, the firm could drop the cost to $1.20 per kilowatt hour.

That involves beginning with raw, metallurgical silicon which ’s stabilized with a low-cost, flexible, ion-conducting polymer which ’s integrated to the electrode with a highly elastic binder. 

That innovation alone may increase the range of Tesla vehicles by 20%. “When we consider that anode cost manufacturing, we’re consider a 5 percent dollar-per-kilowatt reduction at the battery pack degree,” Baglino said.

However, the company doesn’t intend to stop at the anode. It’s looking at using different cloth science inventions to boost the efficiency of the cathode too.

The anode and the cathode need to have the ability to maintain their structure while having charged particles bounce off of them. They’re essentially storage containers for electricity even as that electricity is moving about — charging and discharging.

Baglino and Musk likened the materials to bookshelves, where the charged particles will be the books and the shelves will be the cathodes.

Batteries in this event are essentially libraries, where the cathodes store the books and the anodes are the librarians moving the books (power ) out to the world where they may be used or read (I think I’ve accepted that analogy about as far as it could go).

“You need a stable structure to include the ions. You desire a structure which hold its shape with ion. As you move the ion back and you lose cycle life and your battery capacity drops very quickly,” said Musk. 

Many diverse materials may be utilized as cathodes, but the most affordable, definitely, is nickel. In addition, it has the highest energy density. However, most batteries utilize cobalt because it’s a more stable substance.

Tesla said today it is working on a way to stabilize nickel to be used as a stronger storage substance. That means that the nickel can save the energy (books) without the chance of toppling or degrading.

“We could find a 15% decrease in cathode dollar per kilowatt hour,” said Baglino.

Musk reported that Tesla wouldn’t be throwing out its existing chemistries, but the accession of new nickel-based batteries would allow the company to pursue some of its other goals.

“We need to get a three-tiered approach to batteries,” Musk stated. “Iron — moderate range, nickel manganese as medium-plus, and higher nickel to the Cybertruck and the Semi. ”

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