Factbox: Tesla could struggle to implement some of its battery advancements, experts say

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FILE PHOTO: Tesla Model X electric cars recharge their batteries in Berlin, Germany, November 13, 2019. REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch

(Reuters) – The advanced battery cell design and new manufacturing processes described by Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Inc, show promise, battery experts say, but wondered how quickly they could be implemented and to what extent they would contribute to reducing overall costs.

Tesla’s new battery cell – a larger cylindrical format called a 4680 that can store more energy and is easier to manufacture – is key to meeting the goal of cutting battery costs in half and increasing it almost 100-fold. battery production by 2030.

“We’re not going into the cell business just for the fun of it, it’s because it’s the fundamental constraint” to ultimately produce 20 million vehicles a year, Musk said Tuesday in a “Battery Day presentation.” Which disappointed investors.

Here are comments from battery experts on Musk’s projects:

Gene Berdichevsky, CEO and co-founder of battery materials maker Sila Nanotechnologies and former Tesla battery systems architect: “The most concrete, tangible and perhaps most impactful thing is the new cell design. This is a very good design, which reduces manufacturing costs at the cell level. The hardest thing is never to make it (the cell), the hardest thing is to make it on a large scale.

Shirley Meng, professor at the University of California at San Diego: “Most of the claims were expected, like the 4680 format, the tableless design, the silicon anode, the diverse cathode choices. I was surprised by the manufacturing process of the cathode and the new aluminum based alloys.

Gary Koenig, Associate Professor at the University of Virginia: “It seems like people are often looking for a new type of battery, but changing things like the form factor can make a big difference, and much of the discussion on the Battery Day mentioned this progress. Making the treatment easier and faster, and even succeeding in enlarging the (battery) or thickening the electrodes, can provide relatively large improvements at the level of the larger pack. “

“As Musk mentioned, processing battery electrodes involves adding and then removing solvent, so it seems intuitively that there should be a way to remove this step. Adding solvent really helps blend the multiple components you want, so getting good adhesion and solvent-free mixing I expect to be a challenge. “

Reporting by Paul Lienert and Joe White in Detroit and Tina Bellon in New York; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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