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Discussion in 'Tesla, Inc.' started by mitch672, Jan 23, 2013.
Why Tesla Motors Electric Vehicles Are So Great
Fascinating article, almost counter-intuitive. I had no idea that one of the keys to Tesla's success is their use of the humble 18650 laptop battery rather than specially designed, "automotive" lithium batteries.
Very interesting. Good information.
Interesting that Roadster was released in 2008. It is 2013 now. And Roadster were using LiCoO2 based chemistry, the most popular one on the commodity market. Yet no problems so far, and hope Roadsters wont have problems in next 5 years+.
Absolutely dead on. This approach lets Tesla ride the commodity battery curve and commodity batteries will always have the best cost per watt because they're always shooting for the lowest cost, most cost-effective solution. And reliability is better because Tesla is addressing a key issue themselves instead of relying on their suppliers to fix it.
Many people assume/pray that a breakthrough will "solve things" when the reality is that engineering and persistence is what it usually takes. The breakthrough is a glamorous movie notion; it gives them the chance for the dramatic scene with the glances back and forth, etc.
Eh. My friends actually have a breakthrough. Have had for over 5 years (and it's based on another breakthrough which is now 20 years old and seeing very slow uptake). Energy storage with 100 times the energy density of existing batteries, can be manufactured on existing chip fab equipment. Designs are ready for prototyping...
Breakthroughs happen and they're great. The trouble is that a breakthrough isn't nearly enough. You have to go from breakthrough to manufacturing, and then from manufacturing to manufacturing in volume, and the whole time you have to deal with crazy stuff related to money and legal agreements and people trying to cheat you or protect vested interests and people who are just incompetent -- hey, this stuff sunk Aptera. Elon Musk has proven to be brilliant at this part, so far.
Knowledge gets lost, forgotten, and ignored (and I know of horrifying historical examples). The breakthrough is insufficient; the followup where you spread the news and get the breakthrough *adopted* is vital and is very hard too.
I'm very skeptical but may be you can collaborate as to what your friend invented? It is not first time you mentioning that breakthrough. Any publications, patents, descriptions, business plans? If his invention have 100 times more specific energy then lead-acid batteries, that would mean over 3000 Wh/kg+. I do not see technology around that could realistically archive that.
May be flywheels? But flywheels got tons of problems and not suitable for cars.
> My friends actually have a breakthrough. Have had for over 5 years (and it's based on another breakthrough which is now 20 years old and seeing very slow uptake). Energy storage with 100 times the energy density of existing batteries, can be manufactured on existing chip fab equipment. Designs are ready for prototyping... [neroden]
Have they described to you the heat transfer capabilities of this new technology? That is the beauty part of the 18650; efficient form factor for heat transfer as well as thermal density and conductivity of 'what's inside'. The new batteries seem to be of a fibrous nature which may be unsuited for BEV heat transfer requirements.
Yes. The publications have been running slower than they should. The patents have been running slower than they should. I'm not sure what I'm allowed to discuss until certain patents go through, so I really can't give any details. I don't want to get in trouble for talking out of turn. The discoveries are by Kohn and Nerode, and Kohn-Nerode are the names on the published papers.
Basically, the core discovery (20 years ago or so, with further developments) is mathematical, and is in the field of Optimal Hybrid Control, a general field involving designing systems which optimize some characteristic (such as, for flying an airplane, fuel efficiency) while subject to various restrictions (such as the laws of physics, the properties of the materials, and any desired behavior restrictions like not crashing or going at the desired speed and height). Most of this has been published, but has poor uptake in the field due to the advanced level of the math.
(Surprisingly little of the math is new, but it's been assembled in a new way, and very few people knows all of the mathematical fields which were put together to get the results. It's been hard to get people to learn them. I'm personally working on assembling the background knowledge necessary into one book -- but of course, right now I'm busily learning the necessary fields *I* didn't know, and it's taking years.
(One of the "horrifying examples" of ignored/forgotten knowledge I mentioned: a systematic method for solving *any* system of partial differential equations, mathematically, with solutions in power series (or Fourier series, etc) form -- was discovered and published in the 1920s by Eli Cartan. And then mostly ignored until the 1990s, when it was rediscovered under a different name. I kind of know why it was ignored at first -- it's impractical without a computer -- but it continued to be forgotten during the 60s, and 70s, and 80s.... this method is, of course, a significant part of the math used.)
The major recent breakthrough (5 years ago or so) is simply the ability to apply the techniques to the math of quantum mechanics, which allows for the design of (among other things) storage devices with minimum energy loss (for example) given the specified materials and behavior constraints. (So, you can say "don't let the heat go above this temperature", "feed in energy at at least this rate", etc.) There are some other complications (for instance, the optimization math can only be applied to specific types of quantum mechanical systems, so there's some work designing the individual quantum-level components so it applies). We basically got lucky in that the designs can be made with a chip fab using existing tech, but the whole fab has to be reconfigured, of course, which means some serious startup capital.
The math also enables solutions to quantum mechanical problems which couldn't previously be solved, making new predictions. To be honest, my initial reaction was "If the laws of quantum mechanics predict that, maybe the laws of quantum mechanics are wrong". But, sure enough, researching the literature, physicists have *found* all the weird stuff which the solutions to the systems of equations predicted -- magnetic monopoles, etc. The physicists just don't know how to *control* it.
And HERE is the problem we've been having, as I have alluded to before. New angel investor, new business plan, maybe it'll make it through to manufacturing this time.
Energy storage in magnetic fields. It's already been shown, experimentally to have the capacity (you can Google the paper)... but the physicists who did that didn't know how to *control* it. My friends do, because *that's their field*.
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Here's the fun part of my friends' design metholodogy: the heat transfer capabilities are largely what you specify them to be. It's a family of designs or a design methodology -- not a single design. (Obviously, if you specify something impossible, outside the materials ranges, you will get a "no solution" result when trying to do the design.) The one design which has progressed to the point of being prototype-ready has the extremely high energy density, but I don't know all of its other details (such as charging / energy release rate). It looks like the entire family of designs will have better energy density than the entire chemical battery family, though.
I would say that the breakthrough is closely comparable to the discovery of the math necessary to do structural engineering on a mathematical basis, rather than by the old "trial and error" method used for centuries. It's a huge breakthrough... but there are a lot of steps remaining before any individual product gets to market.
Thank you for reply Neroden! It is way more clear now.
Pretty off topic. Probably belongs in its own thread ASAP so it can get the attention it deserves.
Please no; I'm not looking for attention because I'm not supposed to be advertising!
I only mentioned it to reinforce the point that a breakthrough isn't enough to actually change things.
See the underlining. I think you're basically agreeing with me.