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Tesla Motors Researching Graphene to Boost Energy Storage Capacity

Tesla Motors' next lithium-ion battery may be graphene-enhanced.
Tesla Motors’ next lithium-ion battery may be graphene-enhanced.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said his company was working on something big, so we’re wondering if it has anything to do with this news report from China.

Tesla Motors, as we’ve discussed before, isn’t simply an electric vehicle company, but an energy storage company. Plans for the Tesla Gigafactory are testament enough to that fact, considering that the plant is expected to produce some 85 GWh/yr (gigawatt-hours per year) in lithium-ion battery cells and packs, not only for a planned 500,000 electric vehicles per year, but a number of other energy storage systems for residential and commercial use. Far from simply building the current-best lithium-ion battery chemistry, there is sure to be plenty of research and development money going into making it better.

Currently, the Tesla Model S 85 kWh has a range of 265 mi (426 km), and that with a battery pack that weighs 1,200 lb (544 kg). Adding more range would add more weight, which would eventually cancel out any possible range increases, so the only way to add more weight is to increase energy density.

A lot of research has gone into making a better battery, but the mix has to be just right. For now, lithium-ion battery packs have the best balance of energy density and lifespan. Other battery types, for example, may excel in energy density, but cycle as little as eight times before becoming unusable. Elon Musk has said that Tesla Motors has been working on something big, and maybe this is it? According to Chinese news agency Xinhuanet (site’s in Chinese, so whip out Google Translate for this link), Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said they’re working on a new lithium-ion battery, which would effectively double the range of Tesla electric vehicles, and it involves graphene.

Xinhuanet says that Tesla Motors’ new graphene-enhanced lithium-ion batteries will give the Tesla Model S a range of 500 mi (805 km). Basically, what this means is that Tesla Motors may have found a way to effectively double the range of its most popular electric vehicle without adding an ounce of battery weight. The new battery would have a capacity of 160 kWh, yet weigh the same as the old 85 kWh pack. Extrapolating this, if this battery type gets into the Tesla Model 3, the 48 kWh battery pack will weigh in at just 360 lb (163 kg), or Tesla Motors could give us a 300-mile range Tesla Model 3 for the same weight battery pack, about 677 lb (307 kg). Why not?

Photo credit: qwertyuiop

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  1. If the “Better Battery” is mass produced, it will be Tesla that does it.  The other car makers are content with selling their ICE cars and moving into BEVs at as slow a pace as they can.  Yes, even Nissan. 
    Why? you ask!……..because their legacy cars are profitable and their only goal, driven by Wall Street, is to make money for their shareholders.

    On the other hand, Tesla is potentially the World’s Largest Battery Company, who at this point is developing a BEV market and a grid edge storage market for their future battery business.  They have a different goal.  Musk says he wants to save the human species by cleaning up the Planet.  In the process, I see him building a group of very profitable companies, especially the battery business.  Some say batteries are a multi-trillion dollar business.  

    While car companies are sleeping, Elon is reaping!


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