Did you know that your Tesla Model S already goes through a battery loss during the production process, way before you buy it?
Well, now, you do. But don’t worry about it, because according to a new Tesla patent and the YouTuber called The Limiting Factor we have some idea about how this problem will be solved.
In one of his latest videos, the YouTuber took us on a deep-dive into the Tesla Lithium doping patent to explain how this initial battery loss occurs and how it can potentially be solved.
Your Tesla Model S To Come With More Battery Range From The Shop
Jordan, who runs the YouTube channel, explained that during the manufacturing phase of an electric car, like the Tesla Model S, a 7-10% battery loss occurs. This loss is due to an internal cell-chemistry process called “Formation.”
A battery consists of a positive terminal, Cathode, a negative terminal, Anode, and an electrolyte, through which ions pass between the two electrodes.
When the battery is brand new, and when it’s fully charged and discharged, the electrolyte reacts with the two electrodes, initiating the formation of SEI or Solid Electrolyte Interphase. The process of charging and discharging the cell a single time constitutes one Charge cycle.
The SEI forms over the solid electrodes, which prevents them from further reacting with the electrolyte. However, in this process, SEI is formed using lithium, and as it forms a layer over the electrodes, the overall battery capacity is reduced.
“This is what the 7-10% loss is,” explains Jordan.
Two Tesla researchers, Saket Gowda and Vineet Mehta aim to fix this issue. In their latest research titled “Active Material For Electrode & Method of Manufacturing Thereof,” they explain new methods of doping lithium, aka pre-lithiation, to minimize the formation losses.
The paper explains the evidence of the formation loss during the first Charge cycle. The formation loss in the first charge-discharge cycle turns out to be 12% in a 4.1 mAh battery, which is 0.5 mAh.
The paper discusses the formation of an active material called Lithium-Nickel-Copper complex Oxide or LNCO for short. This active material will be used in pre-lithiation to reduce the formation losses.
The patent goes into detail regarding the chemical composition of this active material and how it is made. You can either watch the video or read the paper to know more.
The important thing to note for most common people is that when the active material was coated over the Lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide aka NCA, it resulted in the reduction of formation loss.
NCA is used as an active material for the cathode in the 18650 battery cells. These are the older cells used in the Tesla Model S.
Only 2% of the LNCO active material was used to restore 12% of the battery loss, which is indeed an impressive result.
Jordan also explains several different types of LNCO material based on varying ratios of Copper and Nickle. A larger nickel percentage results in a higher number of charge cycles, meaning the battery will last longer. However, it also means low battery capacity, meaning the battery will hold less charge.
Tesla doesn’t state which configuration of nickel and copper is favorable.
The Fate Of New Tesla Patent
Interestingly, Tesla-owned Maxwell Technologies also aims to reduce the first cycle loss in batteries by the year 2025-2030. Therefore, any improvement related to this pattern will take several years to hit the market.
Furthermore, Jordan pointed out that the unique thing about this patent is that it has emerged from within Tesla and not from its partner Jeff Dahn.
These are the kind of announcements one would expect during Tesla Battery Day. However, according to sources, the battery day has been delayed until next month.
What other leaks from Tesla will come out before then remains to be seen.