Battery tech

Battery tech

Hello all.

Just read from autobloggreen about some new battery manufacturer called "Planar Energy". (

They seem to have tech for pretty good Wh/kg batteries. From one of their pdf (

"One of them combines lithium manganese oxide with other ions, and operates at about three to five volts with a charge capacity of 200 milliamp hours per gram."

Calculating that as 3.5V * 200mAh/g you get 700mWh/g or 700Wh/kg. to put that in right context: Roadster battery: 450kg. Drop 30% off as supporting structure: 315kg battery * 700 = 220.500kWh battery. Nearly four times as much as current tech is. That would allow roadster to go 200 * 4 = 800 miles with one charge.

searcher | December 7, 2010

Didn't know where to post this question{probably nowwhere was best option} but remember I am just the student asking questions. I suppose fusion automatically refers to nuclear? My limited knowledge of lightning tells me it is just a bunch of positively charged particles and negatively charged particles just hanging around and when conditions are right they just come together and "va voom" much eletrical power generated. Can and is this type reaction being replicated in labs or anywhere and can this reaction be controlled and channeled for our elctrical power use? I suppose I have reached the zenith of my naivete [thus far anyway} with this one,ha.

searcher | December 8, 2010

Please don't throw me out of the classroom for the above question,ha.

Timo | December 8, 2010

Are you asking about lightning or a nuclear reactions?

Brian H | December 8, 2010

Fusion involves forcing the cores (nuclei) of atoms together, which they resist strongly by electric repulsion (positive charges). It requires very high heat or pressure; for deuterium, about 100 million degrees. For boron/hydrogen, about a billion degrees. LPPX ( is using a very small reactor design which uses magnetic collapse of plasma (plasmoids) to get fusion. It has the advantage of not producing neutron radiation, just straight helium ions (which are channelled to generate electricity directly).
They are currently testing with deuterium, and hope to graduate to boron+hydrogen in the next month or few.

searcher | December 11, 2010

BrianH, So will this type of electical production require any great environmental drains. Sorry to be nieve but what kind of inputs to get the outputs. Is it realtively clean and safe etc. Sounds very fascinating, what would be any potentential downsides. Was also very intrigued by timos info on the energy producing option that could be about the size of a lawnmower. In other words what you people are telling me is that the whole energy grid can be greatly changed to the planets advantage and of course energy technology for everything cars, homes, industry, and everything is not out of our reach if we as a planet have the resolve to follow though. If so this is very encouraging to me as I had the feeling we were trapped in a situation where the energy was running out and wars etc. would have to be fought for the energy. In spite of all the sometimes kind of rough give and take all you guys have been a great source of information for me and I really appreciate it. Please forgive my tendency to get into off topic thoeries. Just naturally like to try to explore new avenues etc.

Timo | December 11, 2010

Reactor could fit into lawnmower. Shielding would be size of a small room.

searcher | December 11, 2010

timo, Are you talking about the one mentioned above involing the plasma collapse or the one you had mentioned earlier that would fit into lawnmower. Or are you both talking about same thing. Would this be more practical on a large grid basis or a one to a household deal?

Brian H | December 12, 2010

The firm site is, the booster site is
It's the same device. Output is large neighborhood size - 5MW. No waste or radioactivity, insanely cheap (about 1/20 best North American rates and capital costs). Can be installed anywhere that remote supervision and 2-4X/yr. servicing is possible. For large centers, would be "stacked" or built into clusters.

Excellent both for base and peak requirements, as the output can be varied precisely by altering the frequency of "pinches"/second, from, say, 50 - 330.

At full output, fuel used is l lb boron per MW-year. There should be enough on-planet to last till the sun turns red giant, at 10X current planetary electrical demand.

Scientific feasibility should be established within ½ yr. or so, engineering feasibility within 2-4 yrs. Then licensing to manufacturers for mass production world-wide will begin.

Don't invest in windmills. Every green renewable power source will be immediate economic roadkill.

Brian H | December 12, 2010

The "lawnmower" comment, btw, refers to just the inner vacuum chamber where fusion occurs. There is also an X-ray capture-and-conversion shell and shielding around it, and a moderately large capacitor bank to control electrical power surges in and out of the device. Total housing about the size of a suburban home garage, including "walk-around" service space.

Timo | December 12, 2010

Just like in fission reactor, actual reactor is only a small part of the whole facility.

searcher | December 12, 2010

Brian H, Thanks much for the information, hope the planet can wade through the politics, special interest groups etc. on this. This sounds very encouraging to me. Now if they can just get production of electic cars for the masses on the fast track, not talking about Tesla exclusively here as they have their own sound plan in place, but all the car makers. Sincerely appreciate this information, see my post referring to wars averted etc. But of course we get into other special interest groups {General Eisenhower's warning about the military/industrial complex applies here}. Both you guys have a good day.

Brian H | December 13, 2010

My thought is that the ace-in-the-hole is the plan to license to all comers, everywhere. That way, anyone having the FF will immediately acquire such a competitive energy-cost advantage that no other jurisdiction will be able to hold off, on pain of rapid economic obsolescence.

Samuel H. | December 13, 2010

I can't wait for lithium air batteries to reach fruition! They are estimated to have five to ten times the capacity of lithium ion batteries. Imagine this-coast to coast road trips on a single charge. I wonder when they will finally be developed.

Ten years?

Twenty years?

Thirty years?

Who knows, but it will be awsome!

Timo | December 13, 2010

Main problem with Li-Air is that those have very very low power density and rather large size (high Wh/kg, low Wh/L). You would need to have very very large battery to have same performance as Roadster has. Or use mix of small set of high-power batteries and Li-Air.

searcher | December 13, 2010

BrianH, Sound great, hope it works out like this.

Samuel H. | December 15, 2010

Low power density huh? Maybe a dump truck full of them could drive across the US non-stop. Of course that would have to be a streamlined dump truck.

If li-air batteries have such low power density, how can it have five to ten times the capacity of li-ion?

Timo | December 15, 2010

Power and energy are two different things. It has huge energy density, but you need to have large battery to simply get power out of it. (picking numbers out of my hat) maybe 500kg battery could give you only 150kW of power, but in same time that battery gives you 2000-4000mile range (if you put it in Roadster).

That's opposite of A123 and Altairnano batteries which have huge power densities but poor energy densities. Using their batteries you get huge power from small pack, but using that small pack you get tiny range.

I don't remember real-life figures right now, but all of the research I have seen indicates that this low power density is a real problem. You would need to use hybrid of small set of very high power batteries, maybe even supercapacitors, and use that battery pack as range extender. A bit like HFC-cars, but Li-air instead of HFC.

searcher | December 16, 2010

timo, I fully respect your knowledge of batteries and can see you point about "the battery is where the action is right now". Was wondering if you ever have thoughts of how they can be improved etc, Do you have patents or patents pending in battery tech. Is it sometimes frustrating to want to see much improved batteries and based on your scientific training of what can and can't be done somewhat again frustrating?

searcher | December 17, 2010

timo, based on your knowledge of batteries. Say if Tesla decided they wanted to deveop a "commuter car" about the size of a four seater Chevy Geo and they chose you to be in charge of development what type battery configuration would you put in, size, range,etc. This of course is a hypothetical but would love to hear your intuitive thoughts on this.

Bubba2000 | January 4, 2011

How will the Tesla S battery packs be assembled? The company plans to produce 80-100 of these cars per day. Each car will have a battery pack with close to 6000+ Li cells. These battery packs will have complex liquid cooling systems. Probably made of subassemblies. Everything will have to be tested? How will these processes be automated? Does Tesla have to resources to do this?

I have also been wondering, about the Al body. The presses of the Toyota plant are designed for steel sheets. Same for the welding equipment that is designed for steel. How complex is Al welding to be adapted to the existing plant?

Vawlkus | January 5, 2011

Take a look in the Model S Manufacturing blog Bubba2000, a lot of that information can be found there.

Brian H | January 17, 2011

Here's some new tech that looks like it will find its first application in batteries:

Essentially, yarn made out of nanotubes can carry up to about 100X its own weight in superconducting powders, etc. So it could be used for electrodes, more easily than sintered powders now being developed and used for anodes etc.

sivaramakh | February 6, 2011

we are undergraduate electrical engg students we are trying to make a low cost solar car(4 persons carrying capcity) for public transport.
we are having trouble choosing the right battery for our car (4hp powered by hub motors)

can u tell us which is the most energy effient economical battery that is available in the market.

Timo | February 6, 2011

Are you sure that 4hp is enough for moving four people? You need to have very low weight and low rolling resistance vehicle to get anywhere with that little power. Four people alone weights around 320kg, add the weight of the panels, interior and structure and you are in vicinity of 700kg easily. Add batteries and that's ~800kg. I don't think 4HP is enough for that weight. First hill and you wont be going anywhere.

For batteries, I haven't any clue what is the cheapest lightweight battery. Usual lead-acid is probably cheapest, but it is far from being lightweight.

sivaramakh | February 6, 2011

@timo we are trying for net weight including ppl as 450 kgs as for interior structure we are keeping it open golf car me abt various batteries avalable

Timo | February 6, 2011

That's very low weight. 450-320 is just 130 kg. You said you make a solar car with 4HP. That's about 3kW. To get that amount of solar you'd need about 15m^2 solar panels assuming they face directly to Sun. That alone weights quite a lot, probably more than what you have left after ppl. It doesn't leave anything for structure and interior not to mention batteries. And they are expensive: 3kW amount of relatively high efficiency solar costs around $20000 - $24000. I don't think that counts as "low cost" anymore. 15m^2 is also quite large area: 2m x 7.5m. Better panels just cost more. Weaker and you need more space and weight increases.

I think you need to think your project goals again, I don't think they are realistic. Solar is weak, expensive and panels are unreliable source of power in a car.

Pure BEV with some small solar panel to charge it while it is parked could work better, but then the cost is in the batteries.

sivaramakh | February 6, 2011

@TIMO the car is mostly electric we are plaaning to very less percentage of solar ...the problem now is batteries .so wat is the cheapest li ion battery.

Timo | February 6, 2011

What are your requirements for kWh and weight? If these don't matter answer is lead-acid.

sivaramakh | February 6, 2011

as a told u before the total weight of the car is 450 kgs and 3kw is enough for tht i u hav any gud ebooks on design of electric vehicles it would really help us

Vawlkus | February 8, 2011

Timo means, what weight are you allocating for the batteries? Do you have a target weight in mind for them?

kw is NOT kwH. Kw is a measure of power, KWh is a measure of capacity. What Timo's asking is "how far do you want to go before your batteries are drained?"

Bobaffair | February 8, 2011

i'm new, so maybe this has been discussed, but i thought constantly topping off batteries (the tesla model) hurt their longevity, and that it was better to let them run out completely. i know that's true in basic tech devices like phones, laptops, etc. any news coming from current owners on how the roadster batteries are performing years out, with hundreds of charges?

joesontesla | February 8, 2011 sorry in french anyone know about batteries made by hydro-quebec nanotitanate li-ion faster charge 50 years expected life. this public company got long experience on electric car biggest hydraulic power producer in the world. old science tv show in french that show hydro quebec destroyed technology

Douglas3 | February 8, 2011

Bobaffair, Li-ion battery life is optimized by avoiding the top and bottom 10% of the cell. Standard mode charging in the Roadster does this automatically, and I'm sure the Model S will be the same.

Vawlkus | February 9, 2011

NiCads and NiNMH's benefited from the total drain before recharge, LiIons are not susceptable to the "battery memory" that those other two are, thus total discharge does them no favors.

From what I've read, it's the heat/cold from the charge discharge cycles that "age" a LiIon battery. Keep them temperature controlled, and they don't wear out as fast.

sivaramakh | February 9, 2011

@timo we haven't decided on the battery weight ..and duration of running upto 8hrs max..
i am a beginner so i am very bad at deciding stuff can anyone give me info regarding design of car(links or pdfs)

Timo | February 10, 2011

3kW * 8h is 24kWh. That amount of Li-ion batteries cost somewhere between $4800 (very low, might not be available to you) - $12000 and weights between 80kg - 120kg, so that's doable, but not very cheap.

My main concern about your project is low power of the vehicle. Roadster uses 15kW just to maintain 60mph and it doesn't have very big air resistance (low, small frontal area). Even that you might get the car moving with just fifth of the power, it wont go fast anywhere.

If I calculate this correctly (need to be in meeting in two minutes) you can go about 8m/s = 30km/h max with that weight and rough estimation of drag with that little power in use.

Brian H | February 23, 2011

Timo, perhaps a match with the Planar article you started the thread with, this research reports on using Lithium-Manganese on one electrode, and Tin-Carbon on the other!

Also reports charge densities in the range of 170 Kwh/kg so far. Combined with Planar's solid electrolyte system, could be a multiplier effect?

Timo | February 23, 2011

170kWh/kg would be 1000 times the current densities. I think you mean 170Wh/kg, which is about same range as current cheap Li-ion batteries.

Reading the article, they drop the specific energy density a lot more than planar energy batteries do. From 500 to 170, when planar did go from 700 to 400.

Brian H | February 25, 2011

Yeah, I think that allowance for casing etc. is very conservative. Probably do a lot better than that with some decent engineering.

Brian H | March 6, 2011

Holy Smoke! Aerogel Batteries and Capacitors?

But what kind of volume per unit charge would they require? Energy per kg. is irrelevant if it takes 1000 cu. m. to get a 1 kg. battery.

Timo | March 6, 2011

Why do I get a memory from Demolition Man "but, but, that's pure capacitance gel" BOOM!

If someone invents liquid batteries we get just that. On-road fast "charging" by "changing" batteries using liquids like gas & recharge at home when you can do it slowly.

searcher | March 6, 2011

Timo, Sorry to break in on this technical and pertinent discussion but I will try to be brief. First I agree the 'battery tech" seems the most important aspect right now. Now my question is, with your knowledge of batteries, do you see any developments in battery tech where the owner of EV could do things with any type battery{as yet not developed probably} that would promote the life of the battery with normal usage involved. Things along the line of maintenance procedures. Be nice if could buy battery and keep it going indefinititely with as yet unknown procedures. Hope you see my point here. Get longevity determined by the owner,of course range would be in the hands of the maker most likely. You Finns get busy on this, bet you can come up with something. I think this has been discussed before and a 500 mile range battery was mentioned as the magic mark as it was mentioned who wants to drive over 500 miles in one day.

Timo | March 6, 2011

There are already self-healing nanopolymers in testing for batteries. I don't think this kind of battery longevity enchantment techs are something Joe Average could ever understand, and even with those polymers it still isn't going to last forever, just a lot longer than we are used to.

Nanotechs are future techs. We have only scraped the surface of the possibilities yet, there are things visible only sci-fi writers could have dreamed of just few years ago (and then dump them as too unbelievable to write about).

Just in case you are talking about energies, physics laws still apply, there is nothing you can do that could extract more energy out of the battery than you put in.

That said, in theory silicon nanowire -based batteries could have way over 1kWh/kg energy densities, which is about four - five times more than any current tech. If you can get 300 miles out of current 3.1Ah batteries you could get around 1200 miles out of that same battery just few year later. Or twice the range with half the price.

searcher | March 6, 2011

No,no, timo not talking about energy. Think I have got this principle down now,ha. Your talking my language now, not bound by what hasn't been done. Little train that could,yada, yada, yada. For somebody that all he knows about batteries is they have a positive and negative think I will give myself pretty good grade on conceptulazaton. Thanks much for taking time to run through a little of this with me.

Tom A | March 21, 2011

How about this?

It's an electrode design on the nano scale that dramatically increases current density for essentially any battery chemistry, readily scalable manufacturing.

Timo | March 21, 2011

1000C? That's, like, fast dude. Roadster battery is capable of something like 5C, that would be 200 times higher. Instead of 200kW you get 40000kW. Dragsters, beware.

I wonder if it is possible to break sound barrier in quartermile...


Tom A | March 21, 2011

That would be fun!

I hope that technology is more promising than many other research successes that seem to fall off the face of the Earth shortly after publication. You'd think that something, somewhere along the line would be more or less readily applicable to EVs.

The glitch I see in the article I cited is that these are new electrode structures. On the good side, that may open doors to new and more effective geometries and form factors of cell design. But, it may also close doors on existing form factors, such as the 18650 form factor that Tesla currently works with. Maybe not.

Thin films I get - but I've never taken the time to find out exactly how Li-ion and NiMH cells work, nor to find out what configurations are currently in use.

As I understand, Tesla is pretty much the only ones that made a commercial success of the brute-force approach of stringing together thousands of individually packaged, off-the-shelf cells that were never intended for EV applications.

By comparison, General Motors, for example, designed a completely different cell geometry specifically for automobile loads. It seems as though others, like Ford partnering with LG Chem, are taking that general approach, as well.

Tesla supposedly has a relationship with Panasonic, from whom those new 3.1Ah cells for the 300-mile pack were sourced. Do you know if those were developed for EV applications specifically?

I guess, what I'm trying to find out, is whether Tesla is in a position that would be flexible enough to incorporate goodies like these new electrodes into new or existing form factors.

Timo | March 21, 2011

Elon said in one of the interviews (opening the factory I think) that those will be 18650 form factor cells, but modified heavily for Tesla. I don't know exactly what that means, but I'm guessing extra fuses, maybe lighter packaging than off the shelf batteries, things like that.

Brian H | March 22, 2011

Panasonic has some skin in Tesla, now, and is probably working closely with TM to work up new technologies. The TM production runs are comparatively small, so it's a way to prove things out without a wholesale commitment to a new process.

Timo | March 22, 2011

well, single car equals around 1000 laptops, 20000 cars equals 20 million laptops. Not a small piece of production at that point anymore.