July 27, 2015

YOUR NEXT CAR WILL BE A VOLT:

This is Tesla's plan for a cheaper car (Kirsten Korosec, JULY 22, 2015, Fortune)

The newest direction Tesla is headed toward is silicon--not the Valley, but the material that is changing the way batteries are made. Tesla's new 90 kilowatt-hour battery pack--an upgrade announced Friday that increases pack energy by 5% and adds about 15 miles of range to its vehicles--might look the same. But the inclusion of silicon is an advance for lithium-ion technology.

During a call with reporters last week, CEO Elon Musk said the company had improved the battery by shifting the cell chemistry for the pack to partially use silicon in the anode.

"This is just sort of a baby step in the direction of using silicon in the anode," Musk said during the call. "We're still primarily using synthetic graphite, but over time we'll be increasing silicon in the anode."

For the unfamiliar, this might sound like minor tinkering. It's actually an important and challenging step for Tesla (and other battery manufacturers) that could lead to a better, cheaper battery.

"It's a race among the battery makers to get more and more silicon in," said Jeff Dahn, a leading lithium-ion battery researcher and professor at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia who recently signed a 5-year exclusive partnership with Tesla. "The number of researchers around the world working on silicon for lithium-ion cells is mindboggling. A large number of academics and industrial folks are working really hard on this problem."

Posted by at July 27, 2015 5:09 PM
  

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