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Tesla's new core business? CES Grid Storage Device For SuperCharger/SuperSwapper

DaveT

Searcher of green pastures
Nov 15, 2012
3,494
10,495
Texas
So you'd need to install some sort of robotic way to get that power supply plugged into the car, say coming up from the bottom and then connecting under the nose of the car or something.

If this is the 5th announcement and demonstration, then it would be truly revolutionary. I'm hoping it is.

But I'm wondering how difficult is it to theoretically charge at 6c speed? Are we talking about something that is possible now or are talking about several years out?
 

CapitalistOppressor

Active Member
Jun 18, 2012
1,622
0
That would be true if the companies were hmmm-- stand alone. But I'm not so sure Elon will choose that division of capital and focus. Grid storage and power control (and associated revenue balance) is the domain of SCTY even if 1/2 enabled by Tesla battery production. The revenue transfer equation to form business and engineering focus would drive a license deal to favor SCTY - in fact, I would not be surprised to learn SCTY owns the core business revenue of Tesla Super-charging stations even now. This would portend a strong inclination for the holding company Elon has floated. It might be wise to carry long positions in both companies for a while imo.

It's possible, and it fits well with my suspicion that these might end up being financed by CDO's, just like Solar City does with their solar installations. The core IP for the batteries is Tesla. I need to re-read the CES patent I linked at the beginning of this thread so I can squeeze some of the nuance out of it, but off hand I think the patent covers all of the bases for buying power when prices are low, and selling when they are high, regardless of the actual pricing.

I haven't tried looking at SCTY IP to see what they have that might be equivalent. But I could see Solar City purchasing the storage device from Tesla and then making all of the money off of it, while providing support to the core SuperCharger/SuperSwapper functionality.

However, it might be that the CDO model is a poor fit if investors aren't going to be tolerant of variable income that will decline over time as this concept scales. Of course, its always possible that Tesla will finance it solely out of pocket (I don't think Solar City is capable of that). If so, then all of the profits need to find their way back to Tesla or there will be some angry shareholders.

- - - Updated - - -

I definitely don't believe swapping is in the cards, but I'd love to be surprised.

However, this sort of overall thought on CES is just great. The seekingalpha.com article was great and it's a shame real media outlets, like the Wall St Journal or Times haven't put out an article detailing this concept....yet.

It's almost obvious and lends a lot of credibility to the Super Charger station land grab Tesla just pulled off in front of us.

Tesla is undervalued until it hits 20 billion cap at this point, considering these things. It's so much more than just the cars.

Not only massively disrupting how cars are made and sold but also the grid power system, oil cartels and getting a premium from other automakers. The Apple comparison gets thrown around a lot but it's like how they dominated the music, communication and home laptop (iPads killing home PC's) markets.

If massive CES and grid leveling is Tesla's end state on this concept they will make Apple look like a niche company.

You really, have to hand it to Elon, he loves to go for the jugular. Even now, when you ask him in interviews about Paypal he is angry at E-Bay for basically neutering the concept. He straight up thought Paypal would replace banks. All of them.

Even when he was doing Zip2 he probably had the same mindset. I was working for a competing company at the time, doing the same stuff, but for USA Today, etc. instead of NY Times, etc. And every one of us spent hours each day saying how the work we were doing was making the newspaper business redundant. Heck, that's basically the entire Silicon Valley culture in a nutshell.

All your business are belong to us.
 

Royal TS(LA)

Member
May 11, 2013
95
0
Munich, Germany
Assuming the battery chemistry is solved, you'd still have a problem that in order to charge at that rate you would have to supply 500 A or 2500 V power to the car. You can't lift a 1500 A cable by hand, and a 2500 V source will arc over everything.

So you'd need to install some sort of robotic way to get that power supply plugged into the car, say coming up from the bottom and then connecting under the nose of the car or something.

2500V is about the breakdown voltage across a distance of 1 millimeter at normal atmospheric conditions. Also, in the off-state the charging cable only has a minimal voltage to sense a plugging process. After that, the "juice" gets activated and the electric field is guided through the cable without arcing ;) .

Maybe some of the bolts holding the battery in place are actually double purpose?

1) Hold the battery.
2) Act as screw-in charging contacts for high current.

Perhaps that's the way to charge quicker than filling a tank of gasoline, by using like 10 charging power electronics of the SCs at once instead of the one or two built-in in the cars. If there are additional cooling channels in the packs, then a quick-charger could flood the pack with coolant during the 3 minutes or so it takes.
 
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30seconds

Active Member
Feb 28, 2013
2,201
5,375
SF
given that a CES solution with batteries would have no weight requirements and are stationary, are the current cells ideal? or would other technologies/ batteries be better? I ask b/c this also impacts any drive down of production cost of car batteries
 

adiggs

Active Member
Sep 25, 2012
4,565
12,945
Portland, OR
One dynamic that might be overwhelming other factors 30seconds, is that by using the current cell technology they are using, Tesla can ride the coattails of what is currently a much larger business (consumer electronics) to drive down the cost and improve power / effectiveness of their cells. Even if the resulting battery isn't the ideal solution for an automotive or stationary battery design, the cost advantages of being part of such a huge market might be outweighing the technical disadvantages.

I think of Tesla's solution as the Hadoop of battery storage solutions - use many commodity batteries that will fail (and are priced accordingly), and build a hardware and software layer on top of them that accounts for and plans for those eventual failures. The end result is a much more cost effective system that also appears to be more robust and reliable too.
 

raymond

Member
Jan 14, 2008
360
52
The Netherlands
What if Tesla has been storing up a surplus of these things while the grid idea has been under R&D?

Knowing that these cells can be bought at a 7% discount with 8% higher capacity next year? That sounds like a terribly bad idea to me.

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... by using the current cell technology they are using, Tesla can ride the coattails of what is currently a much larger business (consumer electronics) to drive down the cost and improve power / effectiveness of their cells.

I understand that Tesla is having automotive cells manufactured by Panasonic. Tesla has been doing extensive testing with modified Li+ chemistries and the one most suitable for Tesla is used. I have no idea to what extend Tesla benefits directly from advances in laptop cells (which are never discharged at 4C, for example).

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Perhaps that's the way to charge quicker than filling a tank of gasoline..

I am pretty certain (read: I have no proof, whatsoever) that the cells cannot accept a 20C charge. Multiple connections could solve a power distribution problem but if you can't charge a single cell in 3 minutes you can't charge a pack in 3 minutes either.

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given that a CES solution with batteries would have no weight requirements and are stationary, are the current cells ideal?

Technically: No. Financially: Yes, because over time many, many 70%-capacity cells will flood the market. At that time, say 7 years after manufacturing, these cells only have use for grid-backup as car batteries by then will have higher capacity, lower price and less weight.

Even at 10% of their original capacity these cells will be of (some) value as grid-backup.

- - - Updated - - -

But I'm wondering how difficult is it to theoretically charge at 6c speed?

No biggie. Some Li+ cells can be charged at 20C. The only question is how much damage this would cause to the cells. If only I could get my hands on a new pack I could easily try this out: keep the cell at, say, 25 degrees C (using some liquid bath), charge up to 80% SOC at 6C, discharge at 0.5C, repeat (1000x).
Have a small circuit that does this to 4 cells (to filter out anomalies) at 6 charge rates and come back in 3000 hours (4 months) and I can draw you a nice graph of the damage of fast charging.

Tesla must be doing this sort of thing 24/7.

- - - Updated - - -

At the level of a single pack, if this electricity arbitrage is worth $0.10 per kwh (say buy at $0.05, sell at $0.15), and if you move 50 kWh/day, then the pack is earning $5/day. [...] But if the packs cost more like $100/kWh to manufacture, then you're down to about 5 years to pay for the pack - that sounds really desirable.

20.000 S-es per annum, 70 kWh avg could in, say, seven years time flood the market with 20.000 x 70 kWh x 70% capacity = 1 GWh every year. That's 1GWh in very cheap cells because not many would want these cells as newer cells are cheaper with a higher capacity.

I can certainly imagine these second-hand packs going for $100/kWh or less by then. I the game of World Domination seven years isn't all that long. :)
 

keys

Member
Jan 2, 2013
72
0
The Netherlands
The future is gonna be one load of sheer awesomeness if we got electric cars, supercharging, distributed energy generation in combination with grid energy storage and a frggn self-powered hypersonic mode of transportation. Oh and electric planes. Oh and one more thing, you'll be able to move to Mars if you've had enough.

Well the US, at least. Here in the Netherlands we lack this sort of vision. Drugs are legal though.

--edit.... aaand back on topic:
 

deonb

Active Member
Mar 4, 2013
4,060
4,215
Redmond, WA
20.000 S-es per annum, 70 kWh avg could in, say, seven years time flood the market with 20.000 x 70 kWh x 70% capacity = 1 GWh every year. That's 1GWh in very cheap cells because not many would want these cells as newer cells are cheaper with a higher capacity.

I can certainly imagine these second-hand packs going for $100/kWh or less by then. I the game of World Domination seven years isn't all that long. :)

Droool....

There is another severely cool aspect in play here. One of the major concerns people have with EV's are battery pack degradation. What if Tesla creates a tradeup model for battery packs the same as they did for the loaner cars?

So e.g. if you have a battery pack that degraded by 10%, you can exchange it for a brand new pack for 10% of the price - so $4000.

No biggy for Tesla - they were manufacturing batteries anyway for grid storage, so things work out the same for them. For each 10 batteries they were going to use for storage, they now will need 11 due to 10% degradation. However, it only costed them the price for 10 due to the battery exchange program. So no hair off Tesla's back.

However, from a customer satisfaction and sales pitch perspective it is HUGE.

Tesla will will even come out slightly positive on this deal since batteries don't cost them $40k to make.

And the best thing is - no other competitor will be able to do this. (Well they can... by making checks out to 'Tesla Motors').

Now combine that with some battery swapper at the charge station where you drive up with your 95%'er, enter your VISA card number on the touch screen, and $2000 later you're the owner of a brand new battery.

Game, set and match.
 
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CapitalistOppressor

Active Member
Jun 18, 2012
1,622
0
given that a CES solution with batteries would have no weight requirements and are stationary, are the current cells ideal? or would other technologies/ batteries be better? I ask b/c this also impacts any drive down of production cost of car batteries

The current cells are ideal, if for no other reason than they appear to be the most economical way to accomplish the task. A better "technical" solution is not better if you can't make a profit off of it. That said, one of the reasons that Tesla's solution is so great for this is because of it's fundamental technical excellence. Outside of substituting a steel housing for the aluminum one, I am not certain what else you would bother to change about the design if weight is no factor.
 

EarlyAdopter

Active Member
Jun 24, 2012
2,824
2,048
Redmond, WA
After reading this thread I think "the way for the Tesla Model S to be recharged throughout the country faster than you could fill a gas tank" is through grid tied batteries at the supercharger stations.

What if Tesla has found that their packs are capable of safely charging and discharging at 6C (10 mins). This normally would require a massive substation feed from the utility. Not going to happen at the hole-in-the-wall locations of the Supercharger stations. But if they've got battery packs at the stations this won't be a problem as the battery will be the high current buffer. "Trickle" charge the station batteries from the grid at night and solar during the day. Then dump a massive charge into a car when it pulls up. If too many cars happen to stop by and deplete the batteries, no worries - just fall back to 120kW fed from the grid.

Assuming the battery chemistry is solved, you'd still have a problem that in order to charge at that rate you would have to supply 500 A or 2500 V power to the car. You can't lift a 1500 A cable by hand, and a 2500 V source will arc over everything.

So you'd need to install some sort of robotic way to get that power supply plugged into the car, say coming up from the bottom and then connecting under the nose of the car or something.

Yep. You'd need something exactly like this:
ABB demonstrates technology to power flash charging electric bus in 15 seconds


Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce to you Supercharger station v3.0:
Flash charging an electric bus in 15 seconds - YouTube
 
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brianstorms

Member
Apr 2, 2013
751
3
...
That's very cool. But "power flash" charges how much power in 15 seconds?

Sounds like as the bus makes its stops on its route, it slurps up a little bit of power at each stop.

The Tesla model is different: you drive long distances between each stop and we're talking minutes not seconds and kilowatts not watts, right?
 

EarlyAdopter

Active Member
Jun 24, 2012
2,824
2,048
Redmond, WA
The ABB system is a 400kW charger, as opposed to the recently upgraded Superchargers which are 120kW. At each stop the bus charges for as long as it's there or until it tops off. In 15 seconds at 400kW you'd pick up 1.6kWh - enough for a bus to travel a couple of miles. At the end of the line the bus charges longer, more like the Supercharger model, 4-5 minutes they say to completely recharge.

The point being that not only is a >120kW charger possible, there's one in operation right now. The 20 minutes it takes a Model S to gain 150 miles at a 120kW Supercharger would be down to 6 minutes at 400kW.
 

deonb

Active Member
Mar 4, 2013
4,060
4,215
Redmond, WA
The bus uses SuperCapacitors. Not batteries. if you were to add 85kWh of SuperCapacitors to a Model S, using state of the art Graphene supercaps, it will add over 10'000 lbs of weight to the car.
 

bollar

Disgruntled Member
May 1, 2013
2,667
880
Southlake, TX
The bus uses SuperCapacitors. Not batteries. if you were to add 85kWh of SuperCapacitors to a Model S, using state of the art Graphene supercaps, it will add over 10'000 lbs of weight to the car.

The article specifically mentions on-board batteries, though I suppose it could be the copywriter over-simplifying what's onboard. http://www04.abb.com/global/seitp/seitp202.nsf/0/0ab5645292440a99c1257b7a0053b328/$file/13_25+Tosa+e-bus.pdf
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
10,527
5,472
From what I'm reading, each stop (where the bus gets 15 seconds of 400kW power) uses a 3 kWh super-capacitor. The last stop tops off the onboard storage in 3-4 minutes at 200kW. Last link shows there is 40kWh of capacity on the bus, so it might be a fast charging battery (400kW/40kWh = 10C charge which is still possible on batteries, although not the high energy density ones on the Model S).

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2013/05/abb-20130531.html

http://www.uitpgeneva2013.org/ckfinder/userfiles/files/Articles/PTI 1_2013_TOSA.pdf

But the key point that this shows is that like I mentioned last time, once you reach over 250kW, it's really not practical to have cables to charge (which is why the buses use an overhead bar).

Also the same amount of power (400kW) will still take 13 minutes to fully charge a 85kWh battery (longer if you factor in tapering).
 
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rolosrevenge

Dr. EVS
Feb 7, 2009
1,864
120
It's possible, and it fits well with my suspicion that these might end up being financed by CDO's, just like Solar City does with their solar installations. The core IP for the batteries is Tesla. I need to re-read the CES patent I linked at the beginning of this thread so I can squeeze some of the nuance out of it, but off hand I think the patent covers all of the bases for buying power when prices are low, and selling when they are high, regardless of the actual pricing.

If massive CES and grid leveling is Tesla's end state on this concept they will make Apple look like a niche company.
You really, have to hand it to Elon, he loves to go for the jugular. Even now, when you ask him in interviews about Paypal he is angry at E-Bay for basically neutering the concept. He straight up thought Paypal would replace banks. All of them.
Even when he was doing Zip2 he probably had the same mindset. I was working for a competing company at the time, doing the same stuff, but for USA Today, etc. instead of NY Times, etc. And every one of us spent hours each day saying how the work we were doing was making the newspaper business redundant. Heck, that's basically the entire Silicon Valley culture in a nutshell.
All your business are belong to us.

I wonder how this patent might effect Tesla's plan in grid storage leveling, it seems to have an earlier priority date. METHODS AND SYSTEMS FOR BIDIRECTIONAL CHARGING OF ELECTRICAL DEVICES VIA AN ELECTRICAL SYSTEM
 

Robert.Boston

Model S VIN P01536
Oct 7, 2011
7,844
39
Portland, Maine, USA
Some data might be helpful in your revenue models. Any grid storage device will be on the wholesale market, so forget about your retail rates. The gap between on- and off-peak wholesale prices is far smaller than you are supposing. Here are numbers for purchase today of annual strip power products for 2014:

PJMPJMCAISOCAISOCAISO

East HubWest HubCA/OR BorderNP15SP15
On-Peak52.7147.9340.9845.8451.90
Off-Peak35.7533.4329.3335.7238.60
Delta16.9614.5011.6510.1213.30
These prices are $/MWh, so we're looking at 1.0 to 1.7 cents/kWh of price swing. Admittedly, you can do better than this: there are some hours when the prices go way above the average on-peak price. But you'd be lucky to get $0.03/kWh on average with storage.

OTOH, there is additional value in providing synchronous reserves and regulation; these are typically priced around $4/MW/hour, though, so we're not talking big bucks (except in times of extreme scarcity).

If you are banking on scarcity to make your bucks, remember that the scarcity you're hoping for begins to disappear as you add more resources to the bulk power system that can respond to the potential shortfalls.
 

Citizen-T

Active Member
Aug 25, 2011
2,443
104
Raleigh, NC
This is really great information/discussion. I need to process some more, but there's one thing that I haven't seen mentioned yet which we've been discussing in my thread on swapping which might be of interest to you guys.

If you are already going to have a ton of batteries on hand to support grid storage, then the incremental cost to enable swapping is small relative to the cost of a grid storage enabled supercharger station. This is also another good reason for Tesla to use the exact same packs it is building for Model S rather than engineer a new pack specifically designed for grid storage.
 

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