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Tesla Battery Team Announcement Is Just Another Milestone On The Way To A Better Energy Future

This week, the Tesla battery team led by guru Jeffrey Dahn out of Dalhousie University released a paper in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society.  The paper stated that the team had identified and tested - for up to three years - an "Excellent Lithium-Ion Cell Chemistry."   The paper went on to discuss the fact that it had tested several different electrolytes...in this LiNi0.5Mn0.3Co0.2O2/graphite chemistry," and noted "We conclude that cells of this type should be able to power an electric vehicle for over 1.6 million kilometers (1 million miles) and last at least two decades in grid energy storage."

The big if (as is the case with any new technology announcement) is whether the battery can be produced and commercialized at scale.  But if it's not this particular chemistry, it will be something else.

The announcement reminds us once again that materials science (the making of better stuff, if you will) is at the heart of the multi-trillion dollar global emerging energy economy.  It's why in the race against conventional generation, the alternatives are destined to win.

At the end of the day, the future evolution of the grid will be dictated by four key elements: regulatory decisions (the rules of the sandbox); economics (whether the technologies and business models are robust enough to survive and thrive); information technology (the flow of bits and bytes that will securely control and optimize assetson the grid within the context of the what, when, where, and how much); and materials technology (whether we burn it, harvest from wind, sun, or water, and ship it - the creation and movement of electrons has to do with fundamental chemistry and physics).

Even as this announcement thrills us today (one million miles!) it will be old news in a few years as we continuously leverage better and stronger computers - yoked to the human mind - to create better materials and design and integrate superior energy technologies.  Tesla's tech will be just one more milestone on the road as we propel ourselves into a better, cleaner, and more sustainable energy future.

 

Peter Kelly-Detwiler's picture

Thank Peter for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 11, 2019 9:30 pm GMT

The announcement reminds us once again that materials science (the making of better stuff, if you will) is at the heart of the multi-trillion dollar global emerging energy economy.  It's why in the race against conventional generation, the alternatives are destined to win.

Well said, Peter. The desire to find more abundant, more affordable, and more efficient materials for energy storage is poised to change the energy industry. 

Are there any other innovators who have found potential breakthroughs yet to this type of number?

Peter Kelly-Detwiler's picture
Peter Kelly-Detwiler on Sep 12, 2019 3:42 pm GMT

Thanks, Matt - There are a lot of 'laboratory' announcements related to things like new ways to reduce dendritic formation that currrently reduces lifespan of li-ion cells.  And news out of 24M that they have increased energy densities (with plans to manufacture in the offing - Kyocera is a strategic investor). Then there's solid state, but that appears to be a few years out, despite some claims to the contrary.  So the toolbox will inevitably be full of better alternatives...just a matter of time.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 12, 2019 9:32 pm GMT

Thanks for the reply. I have faith in the progression of this tech, and I know it takes time, but the sooner the better-- we're all waiting eagerly

John Gage's picture
John Gage on Sep 16, 2019 1:20 pm GMT

Technological innovation like this is encouraging, but a lot more is needed.  We can rapidly accelerate investment and commercialization of clean energy solutions by adding the true cost of using fossil fuels to their production cost.  Such a policy change takes political will. 

There is a bipartisan bill in Congress to do this in a fair and beneficial way - it returns the money collected back to all households on an equal basis each month, to protect household purchasing power.  This enables a rapidly increasing carbon fee to be priced as needed to drive down emissions as quickly as required.  It will change the energy landscape in the US and abroad, and is based on the carbon fee and dividend policy proposal:  http://citizensclimatelobby.org/basics-carbon-fee-dividend/. 

Businesses can endorse the Energy Innovation Act (HR763) here:  http://energyinnovationact.org/.  Citizens can help create the political will to make it happen by writing Congress from here:  http://cclusa.org/energy-innovation-act/.

Jeffery Green's picture
Jeffery Green on Sep 16, 2019 1:52 pm GMT

I drive a used Tesla Model S now and feel my car is already behind the times. The improvements look to be very rapid in the changes in the car's technology and now in the battery technology. With battery prices coming down, in about 10 years I can replace the batteries for about half the cost of today. I don't expect to have to, but its nice to know I can. 

 

Batteries are now competing against natural gas in utility peaker plants and winning. Battery backup responds in about .1 second to  potential brown outs or black outs keeping the grid operating. Saving sometimes millions of dollars.

 

Hooking batteries to building with renewable energy can meet a great deal of the country's needs. Centralized power isn't so much needed at that point with all its vulnerabilities.

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