Maxwell Bought by Tesla
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Sunday May 19, 2019 – Maxwell bought by Tesla – On Thursday a press release from Tesla said that it had completed the acquisition of capacitor and battery company Maxwell Technologies. This acquisition opens up a whole new path for battery improvement for Tesla.
Maxwell has been the industry leader in Ultracapacitors for a long time now and this technology has always promised to greatly improve battery technology. Maxwell has already developed dry electrode technology that has demonstrated an energy density of 300 Wh/Kg which is much better than the 207 Wh/Kg of the current batteries in the Model 3. Maxwell has also said that it has identified a path to 500 Wh/Kg and if they can achieve this then BEVs will not only be cheaper to operate but also cheaper to buy than conventional ICE cars.
There are lots of other benefits from batteries based on dry electrode technology besides being able to store large amounts of energy. The most important being that it doesn't leak the energy like it would in a conventional capacitor so it can function as a battery for longer term storage. Another advantage is that these batteries would sustain a much better cycle performance than a conventional lithium ion battery, effectively meaning that the battery would last the life of the car without significant capacity loss.
Batteries such as this would also be capable of taking very high rates of charge without causing serious degradation. Lithium Ion batteries can be fast charged but at a price. Batteries that are constantly charged with high speed DC fast charging tend to loose capacity much quicker than those that are charged at level 2 rates. With the dry electrode it should eventually be possible to charge the battery in 10 minutes without causing significant loss of capacity on the battery over time. This will eliminate the big advantage that current ICE technology and fuel cell technology have over battery electric.
The current Model 3 has a 75 KWh battery pack which offers a range of about 270 miles. Using the new technology Tesla has two options. The first is to continue to make a 75 KWh battery pack. This would be about a third lighter than the current pack and this would offer a few more miles of range and would be quite a bit cheaper to manufacture. The second option would be to keep the battery pack size the same which would boost the capacity to around 110 KWh which in turn would boost range up to around 400 miles with price would remain about the same.
Tesla, with it's current battery partner Panasonic, has been one of the leaders in battery technology over the last 10 years and it already has some of the best battery packs in the industry The purchase of Maxwell Technologies can only offer a road to further improvement. The question is how long before they turn this purchase into usable battery packs for the Tesla cars?
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