Remarkable discoveries on the durability and longevity of batteries have been made possible through “battery material testing machines” developed for Tesla by Jeff Dahn and his team.
Jeff Dahn is a Canadian Professor at the Department of Physics & Atmospheric Science and the Department of Chemistry in Dalhousie University. He is acknowledged as one of the pioneering creators of lithium-ion batteries now utilized in computers, laptops, and cellular phones all over the world.
As reported by Inverse, Tesla decided to work with Dahn and his team for three specific objectives: expanding the life span of batteries, lowering the price values of batteries, and increasing the energy densities of batteries.
During his recent talk at MIT which was reported about by Electrek, Dahn claimed that Tesla and his team have been able to develop cells which could double battery life span in Tesla products, and they’ve done it four years ahead of schedule. He made it clear, though, that the cells are not in Tesla’s products yet but were only tested in the laboratory.
To achieve this incredible feat, Dahn said that they invented a way to test battery cells and observe them while charging and discharging to pinpoint causes of deterioration. The said method created for testing battery life span is supposedly able to recognize which chemical changes could be the reasons why cells experience degradation in a certain amount of time. Because of this method, the team was able to identify aluminum coating as the material that hardly showed any sign of degradation.
In his talk at the International Battery Seminar in March, Dahn confessed that he does not entirely understand the chemistry behind battery deterioration but gave his assurance that the machines they were able to develop allowed them to test new chemistries more precisely and much more quickly. This is what allowed them to determine that a certain type of aluminum coating performed better than any other material.
According to Dahn, by increasing the lifetime of the Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) battery cells being used by Tesla for their Powerwall and Powerpack products, Tesla will be able to reduce the cost of power being supplied to its customers. For residential, the approximate cost would be at $0.23 per Kwh. For utility-scale projects, the estimated cost would be at $0.139 per Kwh.
As for the company’s electric vehicles, Tesla, in partnership with Panasonic, is reportedly planning to begin production of these longer-lifespan battery cells. And the first to use these batteries will be the much-awaited Model 3.
If Tesla does pursue the use of aluminum for its vehicles’ chassis and the newly identified aluminum coating for its batteries, its cars can likely last for up to 20 years. And at the cost of $35,000 for Model 3, a lifetime of 20 years is logically worth the price.