Hello and welcome to another ChargeSmart blog! Today, we will be telling you about Tesla's 1 million mile battery. No, it's not a figment of Musk's imagination, it is very very real.
Elon Musk has been known to be fairly outspoken and last year when he claimed that Tesla would make a battery to last 1 million miles, people were quick to question him as current Tesla batteries can only last up to half that at a stretch.
The other EVs in the industry aren’t even close to Tesla’s figures on this front so it was only reasonable to dismiss Musk’s statement as unrealistic. Though, it seems that Tesla really have made a battery that would last 1 million miles. Tesla have an exclusive agreement with the team of battery researchers at Dalhousie University in Canada, the team is led by physicist Jeff Dahn who is lithium-ion guru shall we say! The miracle battery that his team developed is predicted to last for over 1 million miles and only lose 10% of its energy capacity throughout the lifetime of the battery. What was interesting about the paper where they published their results is that the research team published every detail like the compositions of the electrodes, the additives used and all the science behind the battery. They issued an open challenge to other companies and universities in essence. They even wrote in the paper that have provided full disclosure so other companies can use these batteries as a benchmark.
This is very odd behaviour considering that companies protect their battery tech very closely, it has become the key to making a successful electric car.
The science behind the battery
The batteries in Dahn's paper used a compound called Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide but you can save your breath and call it NMC. Now this NMC is used as the battery's positive electrode (cathode) while artificial graphite is used for the negative electrode (anode). The electrolyte which is the liquid that transfers the ions between these two electrodes is made up of a Lithium salt mixed with other compounds. This didn't come as news to anyone in the EV industry because both NMC and graphite are already being used to increase the lifespan and energy stored in batteries.
So far, Nissan and Chevrolet were both using these chemicals in their batteries but ironically, Tesla were not! The electrolyte solution is usually the one thing that is kept under wraps but even that has been revealed in this paper, Tesla has literally issued an open challenge to the rest of the industry!
What was their secret?
Obviously, the scientists didn't employ a magic wand to make this battery last 1 million miles so how did they do it? What they did was use larger NMC crystals for the cathode, larger than the current industry standard. Using larger crystals meant that they are less likely to crack during the lifetime of the battery where smaller crystals crack and lessen the life of the battery. What Tesla have done essentially is to take existing materials and procedures and simply made them better.
Usually a battery can either last long or offer a high energy density but this miracle Tesla battery combines the best of both worlds. This battery is especially useful for Tesla who are currently working on building a truck or working on their robotaxi project. While passenger cars won't discharge their battery completely and then have to recharge everyday but a truck or taxi might do that which drastically reduces the life of the battery.
Not in this case though because Tesla's phenomenal battery was the solution to their troubles with these projects.
The paper stated that the new battery could be charged and recharged over 4,000 times while only losing 10% of its energy while current Lithium-ion batteries will lose half their energy capacity after 1,000 charge and discharge cycles. Tesla has already acquired the patent for the battery that was talked about in Dahn's paper.