Tesla has recently applied for a new patent for batteries, which is seen by many as a move to realize its founder Elon Musk’s dream of inventing a 1 million-mile battery.
The patent is titled as “Method for Synthesizing Nickel-Cobalt-Aluminum Electrodes”, according to Teslarati.
The application proposed a new way to synthesize the electrodes, thus, extending the expected life of the batteries.
How Does The Patented Technology Work?
Before we can appreciate the new technology, we must take a look at the existing process.
The existing process
When the existing process was adopted, sometimes a lithium layer—namely, an impurity—would materialize, which contaminates the battery, thus slowing its efficiency down.
However, if we reduce the amount of lithium in the battery in an attempt to lower the contamination of the impurity, materials with inferior electrochemical properties will emerge as a result.
Either way, it is bad news for the battery.
The new process
The patent document highlights a distinct heating process, where the battery needs to be heated twice.
- During the first heating, the batteries will be heated to a temperature which enables single crystal growth.
- The ratio of lithium to other metals is also improved, so that the creation of impurities will be minimized.
- The lack of impurities also contributes to the extended battery life.
- Then the battery is heated for the second time, where the temperature is lower than the first heating.
The new process can produce single-crystal Nickel-Cobalt-Aluminum (NCA) without impurities, which enables the battery cell to complete more than 4,000 charge cycles.
Should this invention be commercially exploited by Tesla, this would be a tremendous leap towards Elon Musk’s vision of a 1-million-mile EV.
Battery Management System: The Make-or-Break Factor for Batteries
Batteries are the heart of electric vehicles. And the heart of batteries lies in the Battery Management System (“BMS”).
Most EV makers, including Tesla, regard the BMS as the most vital technology, because BMS determines the safety of the battery, hence, the cars and their passengers.
The functions of BMS includes:
- Most importantly, connecting the on-board power battery to the electric vehicles.
- Status forecast of the battery
- Real-time monitoring of all the physical parameters of the battery
- Online security alarms and warnings
- Controlling the battery recharging and discharging
- Thermal management
Imagine the BMS as an operating system of a computer, which ensures every single component works well together to optimize the user experience
Looking ahead, if Tesla really introduces its 1-million-mile battery to the market, the company is likely to design a corresponding BMS to go with the battery.
The majority of Tesla’s patents are related to BMS. And this latest application of the new battery patent shows that Elon Musk intends to have complete control when it comes to Tesla’s batteries.
Should Tesla license its ground-breaking battery technology to other EV makers, without the corresponding BMS, it would be unlikely for the vehicles to reach the proclaimed 1 million miles.