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Curious about Inconel as used in the new battery pack connector, I looked it up on Wikipedia, and found that SpaceX has expertise. Thought it is interesting. A cross fertilisation between the two companies.

From Wikipedia
SpaceX uses inconel in the engine manifold of their Merlin rocket engine which powers the Falcon 9 launch vehicle.[21]
In a first for 3D printing, the SpaceX SuperDraco engine that provides launch escape system and propulsive-landing thrust for the Dragon V2 crew-carrying space capsule is fully printed, the first fully printed rocket engine. In particular, the engine combustion chamber is printed of Inconel using a process of direct metal laser sintering, and operates at a chamber pressure of 6,900 kilopascals (1,000 psi) at a very high temperature.
 
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Inconel and not-so-smart fuses

i just don't see any obvious metallurgy issues in the contactors for which inconel is the solution. It is used for example in fuel nozzles and injectors in the combustion chamber of liquid rocket engines. It is very difficult to cut and shape with machine tools and will quickly dull a sharp bit.

More than likely it would be used as the anvil in a pyrotechnic wirecutter.

Pyro cutters are used on multi-stage launch vehicles and spacecraft to cut the wires during ascent at stage separation.

A lithium-battery powered pyrotechnic device that functions similar to a so-called 'smart fuse' failed to actuate in the BP oil spill. IIRC it used a PLC controller running ladder logic code.

KILOVAC4_zpsda380a35.JPG
 
Another example of Tesla's automotive advantage due to SpaceX R&D. I'd also be interested in hearing more about Inconel from our more knowledgeable members.

Similarly I think SpaceX is learning how to build many rockets in an assembly line in an effective manner from Tesla.

The question is when can then work together to develop a supersonic flying electric car :)
 

doug

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[Inconel] is used for example in fuel nozzles and injectors in the combustion chamber of liquid rocket engines. It is very difficult to cut and shape with machine tools and will quickly dull a sharp bit.
SpaceX uses it in an additive process (3D printing). I've seen and handled parts made this way on tour at the SpaceX factory. The resulting parts are pretty impressive in terms of strength and minimum feature size.
 

jaguar36

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Inconel is actually a brand name created by the International Nickel Corp for a bunch of different nickel-chromium alloys. They all have somewhat different properties, but in general are very strong, heat and corrosion resistant and non-magnetic. Its extensively used for high strength fasteners, particularly in composites, where it doesn't have galvanic corrosion issues like regular steel does.

I doubt their was any knowledge transfer with SpaceX about it. They are two completely separate companies. In most large companies with multiple divisions nobody really talks to each other anyway even when they technically work for the same people. Inconel has been around for decades and is widely used in the aerospace industry so there is plenty of data on it and it would be easy for a Tesla engineer to find it. Its also probably being used for very different reasons in the battery than by SpaceX.
 

TEG

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...I doubt their was any knowledge transfer with SpaceX about it. They are two completely separate companies. ...

Well, Elon is said to do technical advisement for both companies, so I could imagine he would suggest technologies back and forth in meetings when people were pondering possible solutions to problems. Also, it would make sense for them to work together on negotiations for bulk aluminum purchases.
 
J

jbcarioca

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Inconel is actually a brand name created by the International Nickel Corp for a bunch of different nickel-chromium alloys. They all have somewhat different properties, but in general are very strong, heat and corrosion resistant and non-magnetic. Its extensively used for high strength fasteners, particularly in composites, where it doesn't have galvanic corrosion issues like regular steel does.

I doubt their was any knowledge transfer with SpaceX about it. They are two completely separate companies. In most large companies with multiple divisions nobody really talks to each other anyway even when they technically work for the same people. Inconel has been around for decades and is widely used in the aerospace industry so there is plenty of data on it and it would be easy for a Tesla engineer to find it. Its also probably being used for very different reasons in the battery than by SpaceX.
Those observations are spot on, except for a tiny bit. Since Space X allegedly uses Inconel for some tiny parts, and uses 3D printing for some, their production process perhaps allows much different practical results than do more traditional methods. I do not know for certain, but in a few aerospace applications that i do know 3D printing has permitted form and features that were formerly not possible in a broad variety of materials. I speculate that tesla, in search of a more robust drivetrain, is seeking increased precision and consequent reduced risk of outlier failures in the entire battery usage process. probably centered around such items as inverters, fuses, connectors and internal cell QC (design, production and usage, both chemistry and architecture).

Some varieties of Inconel are exceedingly precise in performance parameters, with alloy composition proprietary to the user. We all need to remember that Inconel is a brand name with only a general set of ingredients. The buyer can choose between standard and proprietary designs.

This is fascinating to me, even though I am far from an expert. I remain convinced that the primary benefit of Ludicrous probably was intended to be higher durability. Elon does believe "...only too much is enough" though, so pile on the kWh output!
 

jaguar36

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I guess that is possible but, with Elon Musk as the CEO of both, I have to imagine when he heard about the idea at SpaceX he would not forget it when working on engineering problems at Tesla. Just my 2 cents.

I think you guys are over estimating the involvement Elon has, particularly in Tesla. Its not really an idea that he would have heard about. This would most likely have been a low level material choice. Its a fairly simple part. I'm sure its made with traditional techniques, particularly as its not really feasible to use additive manufacturing to mass produce parts. Despite that they call it a space age super-alloy, its not a complicated decision. Any decent material handbook has data on it, its been around since shortly after WW2. I'm sure they spent far more time arguing over whether it was worth the cost increase rather than any real technical discussion.
 
J

jbcarioca

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I think you guys are over estimating the involvement Elon has, particularly in Tesla. Its not really an idea that he would have heard about. This would most likely have been a low level material choice. Its a fairly simple part. I'm sure its made with traditional techniques, particularly as its not really feasible to use additive manufacturing to mass produce parts. Despite that they call it a space age super-alloy, its not a complicated decision. Any decent material handbook has data on it, its been around since shortly after WW2. I'm sure they spent far more time arguing over whether it was worth the cost increase rather than any real technical discussion.
The original Inconel is older, to be sure, but manufacturing and materials changes have produced dramatically different behaviors from one formulation to another, hence the plethora of custom products. As for additive manufacturing, the ability to do larger scale projects is rising every day. What becomes the upper limit depends on product complexity among other factors. Don't forget that the more complex the form the more losses happen in traditional production methods. Additive manufacturing has minimal loss rates, which compensates for losses. Take a quick look at a handful of items such as turbofan impeller blades and you might become a trifle less pessimistic about scale vs production technique.
Whether that has anything to do with Tesla battery packs is another question, with that I agree.
 

ggr

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SpaceX uses it in an additive process (3D printing). I've seen and handled parts made this way on tour at the SpaceX factory. The resulting parts are pretty impressive in terms of strength and minimum feature size.

Also, parts like the SuperDraco turbo pump simply cannot be made (reasonably) by machining, because of the complicated curves and limited space between the vanes.
 

SomeJoe7777

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Inconel has been used as nuclear fuel cladding almost forever.

Not for the nuclear fuel elements, but for the reactor vessel and piping. Inconel's corrosion resistance under high-pressure, high-temperature conditions is amazing. The higher the temperature and pressure, the more passivation layer appears and the less that any corrosion will affect it.

In nuclear reactors, Inconel also has the distinct advantage in that it does not embrittle or undergo stress cracking over time when exposed to a radiation field. And, in the case of Inconel 600, it's one of the only alloys that has all of these properties and yet contains no cobalt. (Very important for reactor components, because cobalt becomes highly radioactive when exposed to radiation).

Nuclear fuel elements are clad with Zircaloy, a zirconium alloy. Zirconium/Zircaloy doesn't have the strength that Inconel has, but is almost as corrosion resistant in high-pressure, high-temperature environments. And it has the unique advantage in that it is one of the only alloys that has an extremely low cross section for neutron absorption. This makes it ideal for fuel element cladding, as the neutrons from fission can fly right through it and then go on to cause another fission in a uranium atom.

Unfortunately, Zircaloy has one serious disadvantage for pressurized water reactors, in that at extremely high temperatures (well above the design temperatures for the reactor), Zircaloy will undergo a chemical reaction with high-temperature, high-pressure steam that will form zirconium oxide and gaseous hydrogen. In the case of a pressurized water reactor that has a cooling system rupture, steam forms in the reactor core, and the lack of coolant circulation then raises the temperature to a point where this will happen. The generated gaseous hydrogen frequently then leaks out of the cooling system through the same rupture, collects at the top of the reactor containment building, and usually eventually results in a hydrogen explosion causing additional plant damage. All four Fukushima reactors had this happen. The first hydrogen explosion occurred within 24 hours of the earthquake/tsunami, and to those in the nuclear power industry this was immediate proof that fuel element failures and release of fission products had occurred (because it proves that the fuel element cladding had been breached), but the press didn't report this until weeks later.
 
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ggr

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Aside -- Draco and SuperDraco are both pressure-fed hypergolic engines -- there is no turbopump.

Quite correct, I knew that, but failed to engage brain. Anyway, one of the parts they show has very complex curved vanes and would be very difficult to machine. I just obviously don't know what that part is from.
 
Anvils

TM and PNC Bank has a patent application, US20130154352 A1, for a 'pyrotechnic switch' which will sever the HV from the pack in the event of a collision.

In the description it also mentions that: Although the use of a vehicle management system is not required to utilize the pyrotechnic switch to decouple the HV battery during a vehicle collision, the inventors have found that under certain circumstances it is useful to be able to decouple the HV battery from the vehicle's electrical system even under a non-collision related event.
 

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TEG

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TM and PNC Bank has a patent application, US20130154352 A1, for a 'pyrotechnic switch' which will sever the HV from the pack in the event of a collision.
In the description it also mentions that: Although the use of a vehicle management system is not required to utilize the pyrotechnic switch to decouple the HV battery during a vehicle collision, the inventors have found that under certain circumstances it is useful to be able to decouple the HV battery from the vehicle's electrical system even under a non-collision related event.

When else would they want to 'decouple'? If the car was involved in a fire or flood?

And why is PNC Bank on the patent !?
 

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