In a recently-published patent, Tesla outlined a way to increase the longevity and performance of its lithium-ion battery cells by using electrolyte additives. This patent appears to be a step towards Tesla's goal of eventually releasing a million-mile battery.
The patent, titled “Dioxazolones and Nitrile Sulfites as Electrolyte Additives for Lithium-Ion Batteries,” is centered on one aspect of battery technology that Tesla has been particularly careful about -- its cells' chemistry. By adjusting the chemistry of its batteries, Tesla aims to produce cells that are more powerful and longer-lasting. This is done through the use of electrolyte additives, like lithium salt. Tesla's patent describes this as follows.
"To further progress the adoption of electric vehicles and grid energy storage applications, it is desirable to develop lithium-ion cell chemistries that offer longer lifetimes at high temperatures and high cell voltages, without significantly increasing cost. The introduction of sacrificial electrolyte additives on the order of a few weight percent is a practical method to form protective solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI) layers that limit electrolyte decomposition during cell storage and operation. In recent years, significant efforts have yielded a large number of such additives that may be used to improve cell performance for various applications. Examples are vinylene carbonate (VC), fluoroethylene carbonate (FEC), prop-l-ene-l,3-sultone (PES), ethylene sulfate (1, 3, 2-dioxathiolane-2, 2-dioxide, DTD), and lithium difluorophosphate (LFO)," Tesla wrote.
The patent application also mentioned that the two-additive mixtures in an electrolyte solvent can be used alongside lithium nickel manganese cobalt compounds, which are reportedly utilized by Tesla in its battery storage devices like the Powerpack. The use of lithium nickel manganese cobalt compounds, also known as the NMC battery chemistry, is reportedly being used for the Made-in-China Model 3 as well, according to local reports from China.
Ultimately, longer-lasting batteries that are more powerful would be beneficial for Tesla, allowing the company to hit its million-mile goal while emphasizing the superiority of its vehicles compared to their internal combustion engine counterparts. ICE cars, after all, do not usually last a million miles. Those that do, have thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of maintenance and parts on them.
The idea of a million-mile battery may sound like a lofty goal for now, but Tesla certainly seems to be actively working on making it a reality. Elon Musk mentioned as much when he talked to the attendees of the company's Autonomy Day event in April.
By September, Tesla lead battery researcher Jeff Dahn and members of the Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science in Dalhousie University published a paper that also pointed to a battery that could last a million miles, or 20 years if used for grid storage.
What's particularly interesting is that Tesla already has a big lead when it comes to battery technology. Compared to other automakers, Tesla's batteries are already a cut above the industry norm. This could be seen in the Model S Long Range's 373 miles of range from a 100 kWh battery, which is far more than the 201 miles of range in a Porsche Taycan Turbo.
The Taycan has a battery pack that is nearly equal in size as the Model S. If these recent patents are anything to go by, it appears that Tesla is just starting to make headways with its batteries.
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