Tesla CEO Elon Musk has always been positive and playful, so everything he creates has a special charm. He loves fun and injects it into the EVs and other products the company makes. Apart from that, Musk likes to hide clever clues for future company announcements--often right out in the open--putting our imaginations to work.
Yesterday Tesla announced an update to the time, format and location of the highly anticipated Annual Shareholders Meeting and Battery Day 2020. What is remarkable is which picture was chosen for this announcement.
If we enlarge the background and enhance the contrast, we can see a clear image that looks like filaments of thread. What does this clue represent?
What's clear is that, during the long-awaited Battery Day, we will almost certainly learn about Tesla's progress in designing, engineering, and manufacturing its own batteries. And we expect it to be massively industry-changing. Therefore, we do suspect that this background image is likely a hint of the mind-blowing technology Tesla has in store for us on September 22.
Twitter user @golf_panpan suggested that Tesla's image is related to nanowires. This is what epitaxial nanowire heterostructures grown from catalytic gold nanoparticles look like.
But, nanowires can be grown not only from gold. There are many different types of nanowires, including metal nanowires such as nickel. During the Q2 2020 Earnings Call, Musk called on nickel companies to partner with Tesla.
An SEM image of a 15-micrometer nickel wire:
The lithium-ion battery now dominates the core of battery technology, which is unsatisfactory because the chemical depletes its original charge capacity, has a limited life, and is prone to corrosion and even explosion when heated. Research is ongoing to find a way around the dependence on lithium ions. The most promising of these are supercapacitors and nanowires.
Nanowire technology uses a gel electrolyte which has the consistency of peanut butter, rather than using a liquid electrolyte. Supercapacitors can withhold a lot of static charge on their widespread surface area. It hardly takes a few seconds to charge and can go up to a few days without requiring another power-up. In 2016, the University of Florida created this type of battery by wrapping a nanowire by an extremely thin, 2-atom sheet layer of metal material--not using electrolytes. These flexible supercapacitors can store more energy and be recharged more than 30,000 times without degrading. But at that time, they were simply demonstrating the concept; significantly more scientific study and exploration were needed.
Of course, for now, at best we are making an educated guess about what we might learn on the long-anticipated Battery Day. It's fun to use our imaginations in the interim, but ultimately we'll just have to wait just one more month.
© 2020, Eva Fox. All rights reserved.
Thoughts from the Editor:
I think Battery Day will indeed blow minds. But most significantly, I believe it will serve as the momentous day humans look back to for when the world’s transition to sustainable energy really took hold. The achievement discussed on September 22 could represent a critical inflection point, an essential threshold breach made possible by a new synergy of technology, engineering, and manufacturing--certainly never before seen in the clean transportation and energy storage space, and perhaps not ever in the history of Earth.
Forged with the innovative brilliance of Tesla talent, and incubated in the relentless ardor of a once-in-an era CEO, Tesla offers products of a lifestyle that people love--values people line up to get behind. Change can be jarring, but people want to let go of dirty oil dependence. They want clean air, water. They want a healthy world for themselves and their great grandchildren. And it is increasingly clear that they understand Tesla is and will be the vehicle for this change.
Some day when we look back to September 22, 2020, I suspect we will celebrate how Tesla unlocked the special stuff of a hopeful, sustainable future. And as the shift to renewable, clean energy becomes ever more real, perhaps Battery Day will also live on as a bittersweet memorial of a derelict energy source—fossil fuels—that once served us so well and badly.
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.