Tesla’s 100-year battery design could flip the narrative on electric vehicles

Posted on June 16, 2022 by Zachary Visconti

An electric vehicle’s battery is the most important part of the car, affecting things like range, speed and overall functionality over time. Still, the subject of battery degradation over time remains a major problem with EVs, although Tesla’s battery research unit may have just come up with a century-long solution.

Above: A Tesla vehicle charging sing. Photo: John Cameron / Unsplash

Tesla’s Advanced Battery Research division partnered with Canada’s Dalhousie University on a new nickel-based battery that researchers say could have a 100-year lifespan, according to The Independent. The battery is expected to exceed the life of most EVs themselves, which researchers say could minimize the carbon footprint of the industry at large.

Specifically, the battery could be reused multiple times over in newer models, in addition to significantly reducing manufacturing costs overall. Current battery estimates for Tesla’s lithium-ion batteries hold that the hardware lasts around 200,000 miles, equating to 20 or more years by the automaker’s estimates. After this time period, however, charge capacity can also drop as much as 20 percent.

The new batteries developed by Tesla’s battery research department are far more efficient and have increased energy density, as detailed in the subsequent paper entitled “Li[Ni0.5Mn0.3Co0.2]O2 as a Superior Alternative to LiFePO4 for Long-Lived Low Voltage Li-Ion Cells” which was published in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society.

“Excellent lifetime at high temperature is demonstrated with electrolytes that contain lithium bis(flurosulonyl)mide (LiFSl) salt, well beyond those provided by conventional LiPF6 electrolytes,” wrote the researchers. “NMC cells, particularly those balanced and charged to 3.8V, show better coulombic efficiency, less capacity fade and higher energy density compared to LFP cells and are projected to yield lifetimes approaching a century at 25C.”

The news also comes as Tesla prepares for substantial production of its 4680 battery cells, which are expected to be more efficient than the last-generation 2170 cells. While the 4680 batteries will offer better ranges and will be likely to make cars cheaper once produced at scale, according to CEO Elon Musk, they still face many of the same questions about degradation and overall lifecycle that the last-generation battery cells faced.

Musk was expected to announce a “million-mile battery” in 2020 at the company’s first Battery Day event, but instead, the automaker shared details about switching from cobalt to nickel within the decade. While it’s unlikely that the new 100-year battery design will hit markets anytime soon, it could play a major role down the road in the continual effort toward sustainability.

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Source: The Independent

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