Tesla Batteries' Key To Rapidly Charging High-Energy Cells Observed By Maxwell Research Partner

by Ma. Claribelle Deveza July 29, 2020


Featured Image Credit: Jakob Härter/Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Scientists from the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and the University of California San Diego discovered a glassy lithium metal while studying the earliest stages of Li recharging at the atomic level. Their discovery might lead to faster charging in high energy cells, such as those speculated to be used by Tesla in its next-generation vehicles.

The scientists were trying to understand a battery’s initial nucleation better to improve performance, safety, and reliability. Initial nucleation occurs when lithium atoms first come together.

Using a powerful electron microscope with liquid-nitrogen cooling and computer modeling, researchers combined images and analyses to observe the nucleation of lithium atoms during recharging. During their observation, they were surprised to see that slow, low-energy charging resulted in glassy lithium and improved charging behavior.

Ying Shirley Meng was part of the investigation. She has made significant contributions to battery research and has worked with Maxwell Technologies, which Tesla acquired last year. Meng’s involvement in the research and her ties to Maxwell hint that Tesla could find a use for glassy lithium.

If glassy Li can charge high-energy cells faster, Tesla Superchargers might improve in the next couple of years. Currently, a Supercharger V3 could amply charge a Tesla vehicle in less than 30 minutes. If glassy lithium can reduce that time significantly, it close the gap between charging times for EVs and the amount of time it takes to fill up an ICE car with gas.

The Limiting Factor explained Meng’s research and the work she has done at the Sustainable Power and Energy Center in a video. One of his speculations tied Meng to Tesla Battery Day.

He noted that Meng called for a 500 Wh/kg battery chemistry to be discovered by 2022. In January of this year, Meng posted on a New Years greeting saying: “Happy Lunar New Year to All!!…Particularly for all of us, colleagues and friends who are working on solving world’s energy and sustainability challenges - 2020 will be a big year for us all!!"

Given Meng’s working relationship with Maxwell Technologies, her NYE message and how well her work compliments Jeff Dahn’s research, the host of TLF speculated that Tesla could announce a 500 Wh/kg battery chemistry on Battery Investor Day in September.

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