Tesla’s Maxwell Dry Battery and a Five Year Lead on the World

Tesla bought Maxwell Technologies for their dry battery technology. Maxwell proved 300 Wh/kg energy density is which 20-40% better than current Tesla batteries. Maxwell has a path with 15-25% improvement every 2-3 years. This should lead to 500 Wh/kg by 2027. This would give Tesla a 5-year battery lead on the rest of the world. Tesla could get a three-year pure technology lead and a two-year lead by more rapidly scaling production at its gigafactories.

Tesla could reach $50 per kilowatt-hour with 500 Wh/kg. This would mean half the weight in batteries while producing the same level of energy as the best 250 Wh/kg batteries of today. This would mean $4000 instead of $12000 in batteries for an 80 kWh battery pack.

This would enable far better electric trucks. Electric semi-trucks need to use up nearly half of their cargo capacity on heavy batteries. Energy-dense batteries will make longer-range electric trucks with competitive cargo capacity.

The batteries could also enable electric planes to be competitive flying 100-200 passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The batteries will make new disruptive products feasible.

Japan and China’s government battery programs have each targeted 500Wh/kg. The US DOE has a similar battery program called Battery500.

There are various programs mostly focused around solid state batteries and lithium sulfur batteries. Both have had some commercialization with gadgets or applicances but not cars. They are targeting the same kind of performance as Tesla’s Dry battery technology. However, it currently appears that Tesla could have an advantage getting the new technology into cars and using them to lower costs and boost performance.

Tesla will be able to fund the rapid development of dry electrode battery technology
Solid Power is a startup working on solid state batteries. Various companies are making tiny solid state batteries for gadgets and appliances. Toyota and Panasonic are among other companies making big investments for solid state batteries for cars.
Here is the Maxwell 14D-9 SEC filing. SOURCES- Maxwell Technologies, Tesla, Solid Power, PNNL (national lab), reuters, wikipedia Written by Brian Wang

64 thoughts on “Tesla’s Maxwell Dry Battery and a Five Year Lead on the World”

  1. Honda are, still, an engine company. They began making motorcycles to sell their engines, then cars to do the same. I dont see a problem with Tesla being a battery company and making cars to sell them.

  2. As someone that has worked with VERY tenured faculty it is not unusual for someone at 95 years not to be capable of the diligence necessary for the research. One professor that literally wrote the book on quantum mechanics was senile and would try to get people to review his research all the time. That research always turned out to be nothing. This is why being peer reviewed is vital to the standards of science.

  3. No, near-centerline thrust is NOT important for electric planes. Electric motors are remarkably more reliable than piston engines, and a power cable has no moving parts. Plus, as the X-57 people pointed out, it’s not inefficient to have four electric motors, or ten, instead of just one or two. Speaking as a pilot, I’d fly one.

  4. Interesting. Could you exemplify real world examples of how revolutionary technology has been buried to allow status quo? Preferably from real first hand observations?

  5. About Grabat Graphenano… They claim to have build a factory in 2016 to deliver 80 million batteries.. And since 2016 there are no substantive news, except for some minor scandal when Graphenano claimed that there was a report from TUV supporting their claim of 1000 Wh/kg batteries. Graphenano published the first page of a TUV report and had to retract it.

    Also no notice of hostile take over, just “Chink” buying 10% stake in Grabat Graphenano… No, this is snake oil.

  6. OOOHHH!!!


    BRIAN. This looks like a relevant subject for an article.

    My immediate reaction is: What about birds? Warm blooded, but AFAIK via a different evolutionary path.

    Evolution of birds warm blooded

  7. Another thing that speaks for electric planes is the possibility of adding more propellers at low cost. During take-off, the exhaust speed of the jet engine is much faster than the air speed, and hence the efficiency is abysmal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_engine

    When reaching cruise speed, the “extra” propellers could be spun as only to accelerate the air to airplane air speed, i.e. to minimize the loss. This scheme might reduce the energy requirement of take-off.

    This level of control and low price point should be difficult to achieve for any other technology than for an electric motor.

  8. @DrPat
    No, the main attraction of the electric plane is the potential to reduce CO2 and polution. If that in itself is a worthy goal is a different discussion.

  9. @GoatGuy
    “… yes. Its physics: lighter equals reduced need for lift, which requires both a slower-moving air column being pushed down, and a smaller column proper. Less invested power in kinetic energy. Bournelli’s Laws: lowered drag”

    Well, I googled a bit… The lift-to-drag ratio is a function of speed. Look at this schematic depiction in wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lift-to-drag_ratio.

    Since the mechanical power is proportional to P~drag * speed, but the time of the flight is inversely proportional to the speed, the energy per distance is simple proportional to the total drag. I.e., the graph tells you exactly where the minimum energy consumption for the trip is. This means that the energy consumption of non-lifting-producing-drag dominates over the lift inducing drag at some point. I assumed that the energy consumption was not directly proportional to the weight and it seems I was correct. Also notice that from the graph, we don’t know which of the two terms dominate at the optimum point. It could be that the lift-power dominates, or that the (pure) drag power dominates…

    In the same article, the lift to drag ratios for different aircraft are listed. A glider has a L/D of 70, whereas a B777-200 has a L/D of 18. So if you make the aircraft as a glider rather than a commercial aircraft (not saying this is practical), you can go ~4 times slower and the drag will be ~4 lower as well. Meaning, ~4 times lower energy consumption per unit distance.

  10. I have a pact with my Brother-in-Law, involving flasks of rough Irish high-test, a canoe and a stout paddle.

    … Up north where the sea is unforgiving, and heroism is stuff of epics.

    Unicorns of the sea, narwhals… paddles… and drinking.

    A proper eulogy to a tol’bly well read, irascible and inexorably scrambled capitan in terminal decline. 

    The spirits and canoe are secured.
    Supposing my wits are still about, notice will be posted.
    Hopefully many decades ahead.
    But one heart-attack in, the suddenness of entropy speaks.

    Just saying,

  11. Dang… if only I had your Rhetorical Laser in addition to my dumpster-diving Maths. Thank you again. GoatGuy

  12. Corporations are run by humans. And humans are lazy and risk averse.

    Hence corporations (and governments and nonprofits and religions and unions and … all those human run things) have a tendency to keep doing the same thing that worked before until they are forced to change.

    Just occasionally it’s good for an industry to get a good kick-in-the-arse to knock them out of a rut.

  13. there’s been supremely accomplished scientists that basically released demetria driven drivel

    Oh. So much this.

    I’m dealing with a friend of a friend right now. Accomplished doctor, but now he’s in his late 70s and not very healthy and he’s just realized that every astronomer in the last 400 years was completely wrong and the earth is tilting back and forth 45 degrees every 6 months and furthermore the Moon is not rotating to keep one face towards the Earth and he can prove it via…

    OK, whatever, I’m not going to get into it.

    Next thing he is telling people that I agree with his findings and…

  14. Many of these changes, slower speeds, improved glide paths etc. can be applied to fuel aeroplanes just as well as to electric aeroplanes so such changes have no effect on which one is more efficient.

    Actually, given that energy cost savings are the main attraction of electric planes, a change such as slower speeds that reduces energy costs will reduce the advantage of electric power over fuel power.

  15. I think Goat’s explanation is a bit too condensed, so I’ll expand it out:

    For a modern aircraft that is mostly a smooth aerodynamic shape, the vast majority of the drag (= fuel consumption) is caused by the wings deflecting the air to create lift. Not all the drag, but the vast majority.

    How much wing you need, and what the settings and pitch you run at to get the required lift, is determined by the weight.

    So drag = weight * X plus Y, where X is a lot bigger than Y.

    Note that this is at a given speed. Y in particular is proportional to speed^2, but X is much less so because you can redesign your wings (and to a much lesser extend change the angles and settings during the flight) to prove the required lift at a given airspeed.

    Hence fuel consumption is approximately equal to weight times velocity.

  16. fuel consumption is directly proportional to the weight?

    … yes. Its physics: lighter equals reduced need for lift, which requires both a slower-moving air column being pushed down, and a smaller column proper. Less invested power in kinetic energy. Bournelli’s Laws: lowered drag. 

    About the speed reduction to 700 km/h. At this speed, the range would be ≈2000 km 

    … I’m not sure I agree, but hey — I’m not disagreeing either. Might be possible. While the concept that drag nominally increases as a function of V², and energy as V³, it also should be remembered that lift increases as V², so power per lift only as a function of V; And even that is derated as one’s aircraft flies at higher altitude. 

    … compared to security checks, being 20% slower isn’t much of a show stopper. 

    … the BIG stopper is no travel at 35,000 to 39,000 ft., reserved for 750+ km/hr. Drag increases obviating the savings at lower altitude.

    … I don’t know about turboprop planes being significantly faster at short hops than bigger planes: the time-savings is a chimera, very often queued ahead of larger planes, to get ’em out of commercial airspace faster. That, and of course the lower at-altitude flight plan necessitated by FAA rules and their lower velocity.

    Not convinced 1 kWh/kg is it

    … Me neither. The economic modelling I’ve done puts a soft lower bound at about 1.7 kWh/kg for viable, slower, full-service, small cabin flights. Time will tell. 

    Just saying,

  17. “Now, sure you could fly slower, have larger wings and high-multiblade propellers (sans cowling), maybe 400 km/hr (220 knots) and double the range. But why?  Maybe short-haul shipping? Its not clear that even FEDEX would be interested, methinks. ”

    Disagree. Wind resistance is proportional to v^2. Power output ~ speed * air resistance ==> ~v^3. We have to divide by v since the distance increases linearly with v ==> energy per distance prop to v^2 ==> reduction to 700 km/h is sufficient to double the distance.

  18. Well, I don’t think we can assume that the fuel consumption is directly proportional to the weight. At 893 km/h the drag is probably a function of size/shape /speed, not weight. This leaves us with ~1000 km range. I am willing to be convinced otherwise, if you have better data.

    About the speed reduction to 700 km/h. At this speed, the range would be ~2000 km (you don’t seem to be disputing this). Such a flight would take ~3 hours. How much time would you loose by reducing the speed to 700 km/h instead of the usual 893 km/h? Well, about 37 minutes. Considering that most time is spent in security checks a.s.o., I don’t think this a show stopper.

    Also, I have read that turbo prop planes (cruise speed ~700 km/h) are actually faster on short routes than jet planes, since they reach their cruise speed quicker. Would the e-plane have the same advantage? Perhaps.

    Anyhow, I believe there is a market for 2000 km range airplanes @700 km/h, provided the price of the ticket is right…You have not convinced me that 1 kWh/kg is necessary for this market segment.

  19. The most recent paper had such extraordinary claims in it that other scientists are still waiting for independent confirmation of the results. John Goodenough is 95 years old, and there’s been supremely accomplished scientists that basically released demetria driven drivel in the end of their life. We will see.



  20. The take-away is this: comparing battery power and hydrocarbon power is complex (differences in weight of motors/engines, fuel tanks / batteries, associated systems (fuel lines, pumps, battery busses, DC→AC converters, active cell cooling, etc.).


    Because “auxillary systems” are coincidentally (only!) comparable power-for-power and endurance-for-endurance. 

    BURNED FUEL is bound by Carnot Efficiency thermodynamics. Real engines MUST have lower-than-theoretical efficiencies due to thermodynamic “leaks”, friction, real engines, timing-of-firing issues, and all that. 

    22% to 25% represents the state-of-the-art for ICE engines.
    Some diesels offer up to 30% conversion, but they are rare. 

    30% to 40% represents the “turbine engine” jets, and such. 
    Large gas-turbine power plants can exceed 40%. Jets, not so much.

    FUEL CELLS using hydrogen can hit 70% or higher, depending on the discharge rate and battery design. NOT Carnot limited, but more electrochemical. 

    SELF-CONTAINED BATTERY cells can exceed 90% energy-in-to-out turnaround. Quite compelling. 


    1 kg of jet fuel = 42 MJ of thermal energy.
    42 MJ × 33% (typical) = 14 MJ/kg motive energy.

    1 kg of battery (tesla) = 0.72 MJ (0.2 kWh) of stored energy.

    0.72 MJ/kg 
    × 90% (in-out) 
    × 97% (DC→AC) 
    × 92% (AC→axle) 
    = 0.58 MJ/kg


    14 MJ/kg fuel ÷ 0.58 MJ/kg battery = 24× 

    Sobering. A LOT of work to do.

    Just saying,

  21. ⊕1 to you. 

    I’m SO dâhmned old, that I’ve seen just what I was musing about, multiple times in my life. 

    Corporations are funny that way: they’ll NOT develop the next innovative thing, if the present thing is good enough for 95% of the market, and they’re coining good lucre with it without significant competition.  

    Maybe they only have golden-egg laying quail, but by buying the only goose and keeping it alive in their labs, when it comes time to roll out the geese, well … they’ve got 3 steps up on the competition. 

    Capitalism is a far longer game to the Asian powers than it is to our Western heads. 


  22. 747 fuel: 180,000 kg.
    747 range: 10,360 km

    180,000 kg ÷ 10,360 km → 17.4 kg/km of fuel
    × 42 MJ/kg → 730 MJ/km thermal
    × 35% → 255 MJ/km mean power
    ÷ 3.6 → 71 kWh/km mean power

    Converting to battery mass

    71 kWh/km ÷ 0.50 kg/kWh → 142 kg/km.
    180,000 kg ÷ 142 kg/km → 1,270 km. (similar to yours)

    Annoyingly, unlike a jet-fueled airplane, the e-plane weighs the same at takeoff and landing. The e–747 doesn’t lose (in this case) the 180,000 kg of fuel, resulting in ever more efficient operation. I doubt that a 747 would go 10,360 km at undiminished mass. More likely, only about 7,000 km.  

    ∴ 1,270 km • ( 7000 ÷ 10360 ) → 855 km. (470 nmi)  

    Now, sure you could fly slower, have larger wings and high-multiblade propellers (sans cowling), maybe 400 km/hr (220 knots) and double the range. But why?  Maybe short-haul shipping? Its not clear that even FEDEX would be interested, methinks. 

    Bottom line, 1 kWh/kg “all in” (packaged-and-mounted) is a minimum, and 2.5 kWh/kg is golden.  

    Just saying,

  23. “since you won’t”… no, friend. The dungeon troll ate my posted results (close to yours) twice. I became disabused and decided to answer other posters’ posts. GoatGuy … I’ll try again, below.

  24. Not sure if you are joking, so… Don’t you think that Panasonic could earn more with the super battery than with its own run-of-the-mill lithium batteries..? I mean *if* they bought the company..?

    That said, I don’t beleive in the spanish batteries in the first place. Far to good to be true.

  25. OK, I will have to do it, since you won’t. An electric car consumes 200 Wh per km, and a gasoline car 0.067 litres per km. Assume 500 Wh/kg for the (future) battery, which gives one kg battery equates to 0.135 kg of fuel (I have assumed the same density for jet fuel and gasoline, 0.8 kg/litres).

    Boing 747-300; 180 tons jet fuel capacity and 350 tons maximum take of weight. Range 10360 kilometers. On its face, replacing the 180 tons of fuel with 180 tons of batteries would result in a range of 1388 kilometers. Now lets assume that we reduce the cruising speed of 747-300 from 893 km/h to 700 km/h. I assume that the energy consumption per km scales as v^2 ==> 2260 kilometers of new range.

    Kind of a short range for a plane, but there might be a market for relatively short range flights.

    Of course it might be difficult to get 500 Wh/kg on the battery pack level due to to safety features. On the other side, if we are using a solid state battery, the weight overhead might be reduced greatly due to the inherent safety of solid state batteries. Also, the scaling factor [1 kg battery] ~ [0.135 kg fuel] might be different for airplanes. Perhaps the jet motor is much less efficient than the otto motor. And in that case, we might be talking about maximum range of 5000 km. Not bad, in my opinion. It is not obvious that electric planes would not be feasible.

  26. I’m just a layperson, but SpaceX ex-engineer John Bucknell, agrees with goatguy that using batteries in trucks, and especially aeroplanes, is silly.

    If you can produce hydrocarbon fuel cheaply by recycling CO2 dissolved in seawater then you’ve got clean aviation using the existing turbine technology. To produce hydrocarbon fuel cost competitive with that which is currently pumped out of the ground you’d need a nuclear reactor capable of outputting 700 Celsius heat. So maybe 4th generation helium or molten salt reactors could achieve this?

    Seems a lot more likely to come about than astounding increases in battery technology.


  27. Doesn’t seem a relevant comparison.

    From the slashdot comment from here


    Re: easy how they do this (+5, Informative)Rei November 24th, 2018 6:54AM

    It’s not BS, but it is hype. The founder and CEO is this guy, who just recently published this paper on their tech. The cells reportedly lost 25% of their capacity in just 50 cycles. They also reported a “high” ionic conductivity of 3.15e-3 S cm-1, which is an order of magnitude less than traditional liquid electrolytes. They conducted their discharge tests at a mere 0,1C.

    Links in that comment


  28. Let’s go about it in reverse:
    I am not here to defend the design choices of Eviation, but they are quite neutral:
    -Pusher prop thrust balance. Depends on how powerful both engines are and for safety you use them at 40% of their rated power in order for the other one to be able to take over (if not linked by a shaft). And yes, moment arm forces need to be accounted for in all flight scenario’s. The genius of e-engines compared to gasoline engines is that they respond (almost) instantaneously. It is clear the big pusher at the back is doing most of the work.
    Besides: Osprey V-22 also has them on the tips (which has either a very good or a very bad safety record, depending on who you ask and whether you count number of crashes or number of lives lost). The problems with V-tails are well understood. As with any aviation tech., you need to use them within their operational parameters. Bell V-280 tilt-rotor also uses them. They solve the LOP issue by using a linked drive shaft.
    Eviation probably opted for V-tail because the laminar flow at the aft combines better with their lifting body aerodynamic hull design (the v-Tail is outside of the disturbed air at the aft which increases control).
    -The 1 to 1.3 KWh/kg batteries already exist but they only last 200 to 500 cycles. If you insist, you could build a swapable module around it (as some aviation airfield solutions propose, e.g. aviation containers or sliders) but people are used to the ease of long life lithium.

  29. I’ve answered your comment twice. Both times, the comment has been deleted by the dungeon troll. Silently, minutes after posting.  

    My point was this: small (30 person) regional airplanes need well over 3,000 kWh in order to go 600+ nautical miles, including takeoff, cruise, glide and landing, with a reasonable (10%) margin for adverse headwinds, turbulence, taxiing and so forth.  

    Doesn’t make much difference if engines are quite (85%) efficient or remarkably (95%) efficient, when practical actively-cooled, safe battery packs are delivering only 0.2 kWh per kilogram. Has to get higher than 0.5 kWh/kg before short-hop regional planes can be crafted that’ll be feasible. Above 1.0 kWh/kg, all nature of planes become possible. At 2.5 kWh/kg, it almost becomes industry changing.  

    Just saying,

  30. PPS: The Eviation use of wing-tip pusher props is quite dangerous. Were either of them to go out during the higher-powered portions of a flight plan, the unbalanced thrust would rapidly send the plane into an uncontrolled spin.  

    There IS A REASON why all commercial (and private) airplanes have their multiple props near the centerline.  Just to avoid this eventuality.  

    There’s also nowhere near enough tail area to overcome the moment-of-thrust imbalance. Especially with a V-tail.  

    Thing is, from a marketing point of view, it looks cool, new, different, sexy. From a survivability point of view, it looks dâhmned dangerous. 

    Just saying,

  31. Sigh…

    № 1 — Still dancing. 

    Indirectly though, you’ve conceded: e-planes for pilot training ARE RARE, at present. Its nice that pilots are enthusiastic about adopting them, to lower the per-hour in-flight training cost. Thing is, there are thousands of extant planes, all certified, all operational, all in-service, doing the job, today. The cost of AvGas is hardly an imposition to learning-to-fly. I know: my cousin just recently got certified.  

    № 2 — 

    № 3 — ALICE is nice.  

    5 MJ per nautical mile.  
    Over 3,000 kg of batteries.  
    900 kWh battery pack. 
    Decent range — 650 miles (only 500 nautical miles, in small print).

    I put in an email to them to clarify whether nautical or statute miles are being used for the range claim.

    Zunum Aero solution for 30 passengers https:\zunum.aero (repl with slash) . Electric + AvGas hybrid.  Well, that isn’t all-electric. Sure it “qualifies” for discussion, but it is a bit of a red herring. My assertion(s) above are that specific energy of batteries at present IS THE PROBLEM thwarting the path to all-electric commercial service, whether 10 passenger, 25 or 150.  

    That assertion remains almost unchallenged. 
    Only ALICE is putting up a numerically interesting contender.

    Just saying,

    PS: seriously… I’m an advocate of new-tech low-cost aeronautical flight. For it really to take off (bad pun), it depends critically, now, and in the future, on 1.0+ kWh per kilogram batteries. Everything changes at 2.0 kWh/kg.

  32. There is a lot to unpack here.
    1) Instructors are very happy with the lower ops., maintenance and insurance costs. The entire industry was waiting for the certification issues to be resolved. They have been resolved. After more than a decade of development, safety and legal stuff, we will see the transition to large scale adoption.
    2) skip 3) You have to cut them some slack. The development competitions organised years ago are resulting in products.
    e.g. ‘EvIATion’, is showcasing ‘ALICE, 9person, 600+mile, 240knots. at Paris Airshow June 2019, https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/business-aviation/2018-12-28/eviation-erau-join-forces-electric-aircraft .

    Zunum Aero has a small regional electric and an electric-hybrid solution for 30 passengers https://zunum.aero/ . They have a design that transitions between fuel and all electric but can fly electric.

    Airbus/Rolls-Royce/Siemens E-Fan X is a hybrid-electric aircraft demonstrator for a 2MW electric motor flying in 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus_E-Fan_X
    (No this is not an electric aircraft, it is a 4 engine fueled aircraft with one electric demonstrator engine).

    Today E-motors already reach 15Kw continuous per kg. e.g. https://www.magnax.com/product, and in 2015 Siemens demonstrated a 250KW engine in a 50kg package on an aerobatic aircraft.

    Glide paths use zero Kwh (and even harvest energy), quantified, no hand waving required. That is why electric planes are not necessarily worse off.

  33. The growth in battery revenue means that there will be more R&D money available. Expect to see more improvements in batteries until the technology reaches its theoretical max.

  34. The point which you are dancing around (№ 1) is that battery-powered pilot training aircraft are RARE. Pipistrel has marvelous demo/production aircraft. I love ’em. They are NOT “common”. That is what I called out.

    № 2 — we agree it seems.

    № 3 — we do NOT yet agree. I’m talking smallish commercial aircraft; you’re talking “good enough for practical applications like package delivery”… and the ceaselessly reiterated “pilot trainer” aircraft. 

    Look: MAYBE SO! I’m OK with these specialized uses. 

    But they do not address the 500 nautical mile, 20 to 30 seater regional application. 
    At all. 
    Too much battery mass for 500 Nmi range.

    № 4 — Pipistrel (if researched) has built upon earlier aircraft on similar designs. The key to their flight endurance is enough battery, big enough wing area, slow enough airspeed and a small enough payload. 

    Good job! 
    Not common. 
    And not a 20–30 seat regional. 
    Not close.

    Vertical glide paths definitely conserve fuel — as all commercial flights attest. If I recall correctly such are really horizontal paths with a glide-slope using kinetic energy to maintain airspeed while descending and while under almost-no power. Of course good for e-planes.


  35. 1) Your Google must be broken: Among others: Pipestrel, here is a picture of a commercial production line: https://www.aerospacetestinginternational.com/news/electric-hybrid/first-production-pipistrel-electric-aircraft-takes-flight-in-australia.html
    2) Duh.
    3) Yes. Everyone knows that. But energy density is already good enough for many applications. That is why we already have commercial cargo drones. Electric cargo drones. And electric instructor aircraft.
    4) FAA has provisions (FAA Part 23). Oh, and in the pipestrel article: “The first serially-built Pipistrel Alpha Electro took flight in Australia this month after receiving a special certificate of airworthiness from Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).”
    “NO PRODUCT ?”
    5) You can go on about mass, density, specific energy, specific power all day long, but it isn’t as important an issue as you think because they are not all that matters for the performance or range of an aircraft. Once at altitude energy management is more important than energy density. Don’t get me wrong, energy density is good to have but I haven’t seen a fat albatross (the bird) complain about it. You design your airplane shape around your weight. Big slender wing, more lift, less drag.

    “It is not for want of trying”. Well. They are succeeding. One fuel requirements lowering solution is to allow vertical glide paths, which are very efficient but still have to be allowed by air traffic operations.

  36. I’ve read that the dry process(not dry battery) technology can also be cobalt free, which is a big deal. Supposedly, the supply of cobalt is a bigger problem than lithium supply to the scaling up of current lithium ion batteries.
    If Tesla’s battery “lead” turns out to be as big as 5 years, maybe it should become a battery company first, and vehicle second. If Elon really wants to make electric cars the norm, that would be the way to do it, by becoming the world’s supplier of superior vehicle batteries. Of course the money would be very good too.

  37. We could go all conspiracy theory and presuppose that Panasonic bought them out for a sweet sum, retiring the developers, and shelved the tech. After all, Panasonic really, Really, REALLY wants to keep its billion-rechargeable-cells-a-month manufacturing and profit-making outlets.

    You know?

  38. [1] name a brand and model of “common among instructor craft”? I haven’t found one.

    [2] Heroic investors in the future. Got to love ’em.

    [3] “No product” means just that. The simplicity of hooking a bunch of batteries to an airframe (Cessna did it in 2011) cannot be overstressed. The REASON there are no commercial craft rests on battery mass and energy density limitations of the batteries. 

    [4] You seem unaware of FAA certification requirements. 

    [5] Can’t beat physics. Jet fuel → motive power via turbofan engines is running in excess of 35% Carnot efficiency (physics). Electric-charging → motive power is over 85%. The problem isn’t the efficiency, it is the DENSITY (mass, volume) of the energy, and the whole-system mass of everything to support it. 

    Re-read that last sentence. It is key. And.. the whole-system mass of everything to support it. Engines, tankage, battery packs, fuel pumps, bus-bars, active cell cooling, jet engines, electric motors, everything. 

    No company has shown even a small (25-seat) prototype yet, and it is NOT for want of trying. The batteries suck. Period. 

    I’ve carefully calculated that no less than 1.5 kWh/kg is needed for batteries along with natural e-motor improvements, to “solve” the practical-range small commercial aircraft goal. 2.0 kWh/kg is better. 4.0 kWh/kg is ridiculously easy.

    Those are the goals. 
    Quantified, not hand-waving.

    Just saying,

  39. I guess that’s why Tesla is setting up a factory there. Elon is “selling” them the intellectual property for a piece of their action

  40. This is one of the few times I will disagree with you. The electric motor is much more efficient than the combustion motor, and this is why each energy unit in the battery pack will get you further than the equivalent energy unit of gasoline. Please, Goatguy, do your comparison again but include some conversion factor to account for differences in efficiencies between electric motors and combustion motors.

    Suggestion: start with the fact that ~200 Wh will get you one kilometer in an ev, and compare that to the XX (unknown by me) energy required to get a diesel/gasoline car one kilometer. That would give a guessed conversion factor for airplanes. It may also be that the efficiency of the fossil fuel motor is even further from the corresponding electric “jet motor”. Please also discuss this.


  41. Maxwell Five Year Lead on the World?
    According to Chinese media, Qing Tao Energy Development Co, a startup out of the technical Tsinghua University, has deployed a solid-state battery production line in Kunshan, East China. Reports claim the line has a capacity of 100MWh per year — which is planned to increase to 700MWh by 2020 — and that the company has achieved an energy density of more than 400Wh/kg, compared to new generation lithium-ion batteries that boast a capacity of around 250-300Wh/kg.

  42. “Maxwell proved 300 Wh/kg energy density which is 20-40% better than current Tesla batteries.”

    it it looks like they already got their money’s worth and a technological evolution of batteries out of the purchase.

  43. Sure.

    • They are already common among instructor aircraft. What is there to argue about? They have been around for a decade.
    • With R&D Funding they are golden… Well, that is not how private investment or most startups work. Many don’t get funding and have to put their own money on the line. These guys are not a subversive army of paycheck warriors. They usually believe in what they are developing.
    • ‘NO product’. Oh… I am sorry, I thought this website was called Nextbigfuture, where exciting developments in technology get discussed. I know there is no 300people jet in production right now, but more than a dozen aviation companies are developing them. Just google airbus, siemens, electric aircraft.
    • “Must hold the battery cells firmly affixed.” Structural (sandwich) batteries ARE the load baring airplane structure, hence ‘structural batteries’.
    • And the batteries MJ for MJ weigh A WHOLE LOT MORE. Yep, that is absolutely true. Can’t beat physics. But flight characteristics in many airplanes get better if they have a constant weight. E.g. gliders (even high subsonic speed gliders) are faster if their long wing is heavier. Heavy weight inserted in high lift wings with high aspect ratio increase speed, which compensate your energy deficit during flight except at lift off. (e.g. competition gliders add water ballast to increase performance).
  44. Spokesman for The Industry, are you?

    – – – – – –

    Airbus and Siemens and others ARE CURRENTLY DEVELOPING the short range 100–200pp., <600mile passenger aircraft 

    … yet, NO PRODUCT.

    E-airplanes are ALREADY COMMON instructor craft. 

    … which is NOT a 150 passenger jet-speed aircraft. 2 person, 100 kt, feather-weight frame.
    … also NOT “common”. Almost unheard of, actually.

    You can’t compete with an instructor plane THAT CHARGES 2 DOLLARS for a tank of electrons

    … and has no reserve supply.  
    … wait, that doesn’t work, does it?

    There are dozens of electric multicopter, vertilift and horizontal FLIGHT STARTUPS. 

    … yet, NO PRODUCT.

    Their engineers think e-flight makes good business sense.

    … with R&D funding, they’re golden. Whether anything flies or not.

    The ancillary equipment you mention are not necessary in structural batteries. 

    … for a 150 passenger, 300 knot, commercial service plane?
    GUESS AGAIN, buddy. Guess again.

    Some of the benefits of structural batteries, is to rid the housing + the dry chemistry does not require to operate within a very narrow temperature range. 

    … nope, one must HOLD the cells firmly affixed, especially airborne, to deal with inevitable high turbulance.  

    Besides, e-jet motors weigh less than a tenth of fueled counterparts. 

    … and the batteries, MJ for MJ, weigh a WHOLE LOT MORE.

    That’s a lot of saved weight.

    not even close.

    Just saying,

  45. Worked with Maxwell for ultracapacitors for reliable motor starting systems in my last startup. Very bright and innovative people. Hope Tesla doesn’t sink them.

  46. The aviation industry disagrees with your criterion. e.g. Airbus and Siemens (and others) are currently developing the short range 100-200pp., <600mile passenger aircraft you deem not likely to arise. Electric airplanes are already common among instructor pilots. You can’t compete with an instructor who charges 2 dollar for a tank of electrons in a 1/2 hr training flight, less insurance, compared to the multiple for avgas and prop-engines.

    There are dozens of electric multicopter, vertilift and horizontal flight startups. Many of their engineers (often pilots themselves) are pretty well versed in the details of energy management and the costs of flying. They think e-flight makes good business sense.

    The ancillary equipment you mention are not necessary in structural batteries, which are seeing a lot of investment in the car and aviation industry at the start up and mid size enterprise level. Some of the benefits are they get rid of the housing + the dry chemistry does not require to operate within a very narrow temperature range. Besides, e-jet motors weigh less than a tenth of fueled counterparts. That’s a lot of saved weight.

    True, the constant weight of batteries does lower the range (although there are some companies who plan to use a charged electric fluid in a flow battery which once used is dumped overboard), but for a regional spoke-spoke operator, cost of operations (and a lower ticket price) is the number one metric. Electric already shines in that department.

  47. Yep … very optimistic assumptions here … let’s first build a car power scale of these things (maybe a Model 3 entry car range) and see how it fits, recharges and performs over all conditions. This super-capacitor based big-battery would be great … and get us out of the Li bottleneck … but the problem has been scale-up and compactness (a key transportation issue for cars).

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  49. This would mean $4000 instead of $12000 in batteries for an 80 kWh battery pack. 

    … not likely: a battery pack cost is substantially cells. Once the public wants “bigger numbers”, they’ll want more kWh. More.

    Electric semi-trucks need to use up nearly half of their cargo capacity on heavy batteries. 

    … volume? not a chance.
    … mass? not close, either.

    Batteries are heavy. Comprised into a pack, necessarily having heat-pipes, bus-bars, impact worthy housings, hermetic seals, etc., it weighs nearly 50% more than the battery cells. Tesla Model S, with 80 kWh battery pack… is over 500 kg. 500 kg ÷ 80 kWh = 6 kg/kWh 

    A truck needs 400 kWh in order to make hauls all day long. At present that’d weigh about 2,500 kg. A medium-haul truck is rated for 80,000 lbs (US) all in, or 36,300 kg. Of which the actual payload is around 25,000 kg.  

    So… 10% of the payload? … just saying: NOT 50%

    The batteries could also enable electric planes to be competitive flying 100–200 passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

    … wildly off, if compared to JET is the criterion. If compared to a propeller plane, still way off.

    A 737–800 gets 0.2 km/ℓ for trips. 5.3ℓ/km. 181 MJ thermal, maybe 65 MJ motive, per km. SFO → LAX is 300 nmi ÷ 540 km. That’s 35,100 MJ less takeoff. Total 40,000 MJ (divide by 3.6 = 11,000 kWh). If the whole pack is 50% lighter (250 kg per 80 kWh) is 35,000 kg. Compare that to 2,500 kg of jet fuel.

    Just saying,

  50. Hey, DoD, I know about equal under the law and all, but you might want to give Elon a mulligan on that joint. Looks like you may need him. And it’s not like he’s trying to hide an addiction problem. And they might be legalizing it soon since it pays more to grow it than lock people up over it.

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