In the near future, Tesla is expected to take a huge step forward in the development of batteries.
Research by a team of scientists led by Jeff Dan of the University of Dalhousie, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, will serve as the basis for new batteries. Among the most important achievements of Dan's laboratory are chemical additives and nanotechnological materials that make lithium-ion batteries more rigid and more resistant to damage from stress, for example, fast charging, which can significantly increase the battery capacity and the duration of charge storage.
Equally important is the collaboration of Tesla with the Chinese battery manufacturer CATL. The use of a simpler and less expensive method of packaging cell-to-pack elements makes it possible to reduce the weight and size of the battery, making it less demanding for cooling. Due to this, the life of the batteries is extended and their cost is reduced.
It is reported that Tesla and CATL have developed a battery with a very low or near zero cobalt content. Typically, such batteries are created using lithium, iron and phosphorus (LFP) ornickel, manganese and cobalt (NMC) whose cathode consists of 50% nickel and only 20% cobalt. They have a higher energy density compared to traditional lithium-ion. Perhaps their resource will be several million kilometers.
Tesla is now jointly producing nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) batteries from Panasonic at the Gigabactory in Nevada and is buying NMC batteries from LG Chem in China.
But the main advantage of these batteries is their low cost. The cost of producing LFP batteries does not exceed $80/kW·h, and the manufacture of individual batteries requires no more than $60/kW·h, and NMC batteries are close to $100/kW·h. Probably the first to receive such batteries are the Tesla Model 3, manufactured at the Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai.
Analysts in the automotive industry believe that at a cost of about $100/kW·h, this is the cost of batteries at which electric cars will be able to fully compete with cars on internal combustion engines. The possibility of achieving such a price for its Ultium battery, however, only by 2025, previously reported by General Motors.
Elon Musk said in January that Tesla needed to significantly increase battery production. Surely, new ones will help to solve this problem - not “gig”, but “factory tera”. Meanwhile, Redwood Materials, a Tesla subsidiary, is stepping up battery recycling. Redwood Materials is working on the recycling and recovery of expensive metals such as nickel, cobalt and lithium, as well as new “second life” applications for electric vehicle batteries in networked storage systems such as the Tesla system built in the south. Australia in 2017. This approach also helps reduce the cost of new batteries.
In addition, Tesla, which is actively developing as an electric power company, is considering the possibility of combining all electric vehicles into a single network, each participant of which can act as an electricity supplier. With a global fleet of more than 1 million electric vehicles, Tesla can achieve the status of an energy company competing with traditional energy suppliers such as Pacific Gas and Electric and Tokyo Electric Power.
It is expected that these innovations will be discussed in detail at the Tesla Battery Day event.