Top battery researcher arrives at Tesla with marching orders to do whatever it takes to improve battery performance

Posted on May 31, 2016 by Matt Pressman

Tesla Motors [NASDAQ: TSLA] has a new powerhouse in the world of lithium-ion battery research joining the team. Quartz* reports that: "Jeff Dahn, a leading battery researcher who teaches at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, will go on an exclusive contract with Tesla Motors on June 8... And Dahn says he is arriving with marching orders to do 'whatever it takes' to improve the company’s battery performance."

Above: Jeff Dahn (driver's seat) takes a Tesla Model S for a spin after signing a research agreement with Tesla Motors Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, JB Straubel (Source: Dalhousie University news)

Furthermore, it's reported that, "Tesla’s hiring of the outspoken Dahn suggests that Musk is interested in hearing a clear-eyed view of the challenges at hand... Dahn is known for publicly calling out the shortcomings of his colleagues’s inventions, all in the name of honest science, he says, and himself is a pioneer of one of the world’s leading energy chemistries, known by the acronym NMC."

Above: Jeff Dahn and Tesla Co-Founder and CTO JB Straubel (Source: Dalhousie University news)

In addition, Dahn explained that, "at Tesla, he will be seeking the same objectives as everyone in the industry: low cost, high energy density, and long battery life. But 'whatever it takes,' an operational mantra he said he picked up in conversation with Kurt Kelty, Telsa’s battery director, will be his rule. 'Those are the goals, and that’s how we’re going to do it,' Dahn said. 'We’re open to anything that makes sense.'"

Above: Jeff Dahn inside a Tesla Model S (Source: Dalhousie University news)

So... who is Jeff Dahn? Last summer the Wall Street Journal reported, "Tesla Motors Inc. has locked a leading advanced battery researcher into an exclusive partnership… Jeff Dahn, a professor at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia known for his work innovating lithium-ion batteries like those Tesla uses to power its Model S sedan, will cooperate with Tesla researchers... [Dahn] patented a nickel-cobalt-manganese chemistry for battery cathodes that is now commonly used in the industry. He is also the leading researcher on why lithium-ion batteries fail."

Above: A fascinating look into Jeff Dahn's views on the limitations and possibilities for lithium-ion batteries (Source: Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology)

According to Dalhousie University news, "When Dahn learned of Tesla’s planned Gigafactory, he wanted in. 'I had to be a part of it,' says Dahn. 'It’s the next step... [our] goal is to increase the energy density and lifetime of Li-ion batteries, so we can drive down costs in automotive and grid energy storage applications." According to his bio, "Jeff Dahn is recognized as one of the pioneering developers of the lithium-ion battery... [and] is the author of over 500 refereed journal papers and co-inventor of 58 inventions with patents issued or filed."

Above: Dahn (far right) pictured with his team, JB Straubel (center) and a Tesla Model S (Source: Dalhousie University news)

Dahn was also just recently, "awarded one of the first Governor General's Innovation Awards for his work to help increase the amount of energy Lithium-ion batteries can store." In light of Tesla co-founder JB Straubel's recent enthusiasm on the near-term possibilities surrounding battery improvements, it's likely that Dahn could quickly contribute to Tesla's team in this critical area.

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*Source: Quartz / Photos: Dalhousie University news (Photo credit: Daniel Abriel)

Posted in Electric Vehicles, JB Straubel, Jeff Dahn, lithium-ion batteries, Tesla, tesla gigafactory, tesla news, TSLA


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