Tesla Buys Maxwell to Eventually Nearly Triple Battery Energy Density

Maxwell Technologies has breakthrough dry battery electrode technology and ultracapacitors. Tesla has announced the purchase of Maxwell Technologies for $218 million in an all-stock deal.

The Maxwell dry battery electrode technology could increase battery energy density by 50% and eventually could nearly triple energy density from current levels. The technology can also lower the cost of batteries by 10 to 20% and double the life of batteries.

Currently, the Tesla Model 3 battery pack has an energy density of 272 Watt-hours per liter and at the battery cell level this is 207 watt-hours per kilogram. The dry battery electrode can increase energy density to over 300 watt-hours per kilogram and then to over 500 watt-hours per kilogram.

It will be interesting to see how quickly the dry battery electrode technology could be incorporated into Tesla energy storage or electric cars. The Maxwell plans were targeting significant multi-billion market penetration by 2023. I would guess that Tesla and Elon would try to push for late in 2020 and ramping production in 2021.

Dry battery electrode technology uses Maxwell’s core dry electrode process technology which has been used to make ultracapacitors. This unique electrode manufacturing process provides better performance at a lower production cost. Dry coating technology provides higher energy density, longer operating lifetime, high temperature operating robustness and higher charge/discharge rate capability. There are no solvents used in the process technology.

The manufacturing equipment costs dry processing should be less. There should be less energy used in the manufacturing process because of the lack of solvent handling.

Dry process technology enables electrode production using high energy density, liquid sensitive materials which cannot be used in wet coating processes.

There was a scientific paper titled “Electrochemical Performance of Dry Battery Electrode” published in 2018 by Joon Shina and Hieu Duonga who work at Maxwell Technologies.

They reported physical properties of self-supporting dry electrode film and electrochemical performance of dry battery electrode in half cell and full cell. They measured electrochemical performance of dry battery electrode produced at the lab-level and pilot-level in single layer pouch cell as well as multilayer stacked pouch cell platform with capacity ranging from about 200mAh to about 15Ah.

There was a 4-page paper presented at the Power Sources Conference.

Maxwell’s proprietary dry coating electrode technology is comprised of three steps:
1. dry powder mixing
2. powder to film formation and
3. film to current collector lamination; all executed in a solventless fashion.

Maxwell’s dry coating electrode process is scalable and can accommodate current lithium-ion battery chemistry and advanced battery electrode materials.

Energy Storage

Ultracapacitors enhance the efficiency and reliability of devices or systems that generate or consume electrical energy. They differ from other energy storage and power delivery products by combining rapid charge/discharge capabilities typically associated with film and electrolytic capacitors with energy storage capacity generally associated with batteries. Although batteries store significantly more electrochemical energy than ultracapacitors, they cannot charge and discharge as rapidly and efficiently as ultracapacitors. Electrolytic capacitors can deliver bursts of high power very rapidly, they have limited energy storage capacity, and therefore cannot sustain power delivery as long as ultracapacitors. They store energy using a chemical reaction and experience gradual depletion of their energy storage and power delivery capability over hundreds to a few thousand charge and discharge cycles, ultracapacitors’ energy storage and power delivery mechanisms involve minimal chemical reactions, so they can be charged and discharged hundreds of thousands to millions of times in typical operating environments with negligible performance degradation. Ultracapacitors can store energy, deliver bursts of power and perform reliably for many years, with little or no maintenance. Ultracapacitors are niche solutions for certain aspects of efficient energy storage option for a wide range of energy-consuming and generating devices and applications.

There are also more than 65 million Maxwell ultracapacitor cells deployed in mobile and stationary applications worldwide. Maxwell has new 3.0 volt small cell ultracapacitors that are used in actuators, emergency lighting, telematics, automotive, backup systems, smart meter and robotic applications.

Maxwell had a 15-page investor presentation from January 16, 2019 from the 21st Annual Needham Growth Conference.

SOURCES- Maxwell Technologies, Twitter Scott Wainner, Two scientific publications from Maxwell Technologies

Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

3 thoughts on “Tesla Buys Maxwell to Eventually Nearly Triple Battery Energy Density”

  1. There have been many announcements and promising results, but still nothing in production. However, Tesla probably has the incentive to do everything possible to get these into production. Between auto, energy, and solar markets they can probably find a niche for development.

    I’m still skeptical…

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