Tesla's scientific board (a Canada-based think tank) has published a paper that provides design details for batteries that could last as long as a century.
Electric transportation is increasingly being promoted as a means of achieving government-set carbon reduction targets. To ensure this happens, countries need to turn to renewable energy sources and electric vehicle manufacturers need to make sure vehicles don't create new problems.
What the super battery expert says
Tesla, the company that (in the words of its CEO Elon Musk) "reinvented the electric car" has started teaming up with one of the world's leading experts in battery technology: Jeff Dahn. If you don't know him and don't feel like googling, know that Dahn is one of the pioneers of lithium-ion batteries (which are everywhere today).
Dahn is a professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. To leverage his industry knowledge, Tesla practically built a research department on him. It doesn't surprise me, when you consider that this man is exactly the reason for the success of lithium batteries. Dahn made them "useful", marketable. An overwhelming success: and now the super expert is working to increase its density and duration.
What is the energy density of a battery?
The energy density of a fuel is the amount of energia which can be stored in a unit of volume. This is relevant for an electric vehicle, as it affects the distance it can travel. A battery with a lower energy density would need a larger battery pack to reach the same distance as one with a higher energy density. A battery with a higher energy density would take up less space in the car, also taking away the anxiety about the vehicle's range.
It is worth noting that fossil fuels, such as gasoline, are the most energy dense known to man. Man-made batteries have a density one hundred times lower than that of fossil fuels. Nonetheless, the effect of fossil fuels on the climate is too serious to ignore and we must work to improve the battery technology currently in use.
Dahn has been working in this industry very recently, and has already given Tesla a lot of patents and research. A recent article on the Journal of The Electrochemical Society offers details on innovative batteries that can be far superior to current ones.
The article goes on to talk about the chemistry of nickel-based batteries, which adds higher energy density to the equation and allows for greater range for electric cars. Batteries with an incredibly longer lifespan potential than lithium-ion batteries. The paper examines the "extreme" case of a battery used at a constant temperature of 25 degrees: it would last even over 100 years. A promising path, which will immediately increase performance in any case.
In the past, nickel batteries contained cobalt. Concerns about its use have "forced" researchers to find and test solutions and batteries that do not include cobalt but nickel: a great coup, when it is said that "necessity sharpens the wits", right?
Given the situation it is obvious that Tesla has recently decided to increase its cooperation with the Dahn group until 2026. I am sure that in the near future the Musk company will set new standards by further raising the bar.