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Is Tesla aware and/or considering this revolutionary technology?

I just read a lot about the material Graphene, a high-quality derivative of graphite that is revolutionizing a slew of products. What caught my eye especially and regarding electric cars in general was this quote:

"Engineers at Northwest University found that specially crafted graphene electrodes could allow a lithium-ion battery – like those found in your smartphone or Chevy Volt – to charge 10 times faster and hold 10 times more power."
I'd love to hear from Tesla on this....they make an extraordinary car and this could improvement could give it a quantum leap forward in my opinion to help overcome gas/combustion dominance.

TJ
San Diego

Hope so. But keep in mind that that kind of charging requires really heavy-duty charging sources and cables and ... Not DIY stuff.

Hopefully a Tesla engineer will notice your post and look into it if they have not already... Or if they found it was impractical they would let us know... Interesting idea but not sure it is cost effective... As I know graphene is very expensive.

Elon keeps hinting at a capacitance breakthrough. It will be interesting to see what he's talking about when he becomes less pre-occupied with boring stuff like missions to Mars and hyperloops.

If they can get supercapacitors to a low enough price, it could dramatically increase the efficiency of regenerative braking. Actually, supercaps could already dramatically do so, except they are too expensive.

This is a little off topic, but I can't seem to find a way to start a new thread. After my test drive yesterday, which was very exciting,
I thought about an idea that I would love the software engineers to think about. Oftentimes we must leave our car with a valet. I worry that they will step on the gas and be surprised when the car speeds up. Would it be possible to create a "valet mode" so that the car goes no more than 25-30 miles per hour while in that mode.
I think for safety in the future, something like this should be available.
I await an answer from Tesla.
Thanks,
Abby

Abby;
In each topic area (General, Model S, etc.) there is a button at the top "Post New Forum Topic". What's the problem with that?

Your idea has been widely discussed. Use Volkerize.com and search for "valet".

@David70: ...and too large. Supercaps have very poor energy density compared to batteries.

@Timo

Correct. Batteries hold exponentially more specific energy I believe.

Timo, and others.
Volumetric energy density shouldn't be a problem as long as (as I said) the supercaps are used for regenerative braking. I wasn't talking about replacing 40 - 85 kW-h of batteries.
60 mph = 88 ft/s = 26.82245 m/s
4600 lb ~= 2100 kg
KE of Model S at 60 mph ~= 752146 J or 0.2089 kW-h.
Volumetric energy density of gasoline is 8.76 kW-h/liter

http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2003/ArthurGolnik.shtml.

Volumetric energy density of best supercap is about 0.1% of volumetric energy density of gasoline.

The above was obtained from Google search of the following.
superpacitor value of "volumetric energy density"
So, the volumetric energy density of supercaps is 0.00876 kW-h/liter.

0.2089 kW-h/0.00876 kW-h/liter = 23.85 l = 0.84 cubic ft.
This is small compared to the available volume in a Model S.
Add a cubic foot of supercaps and in stop and go driving below 60 mph it wouldn't cost you much more energy than maintaining constant speed.

P.S.
Of course, it is now very expensive to do so.

Apparently, finally graphene thechnology is going to be commercialized through Canadian: Targray Technology. They partnered up with Vorbeck Materials Corp the guys that developed in collaboration with Princeton University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)the new graphene batteries that were all the rave back in May. Seems like there is finally some clues that this technology will actually make it into production soon. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Either start direct R&D on graphene technology for application on next generation batteries, or start working with companies that have gained experience in the development and manufacture of new graphene batteries. I think this technology, in conjunction with a nation wide supercharger network, would allow Tesla to finally put to rest for good the range issue "stigma" that electric cars have.

@David70, I agree that for regen only you could use supercaps, but it wouldn't really increase regen efficiency much. Batteries are already very efficient and you would be adding quite a bit more complexity to the system increasing the mass of entire system which might add up as net loss of efficiency. With supercaps you would still need to run power thru same conversion chain as with current system and that is where most of those losses are created.

Only real advantage I would see is that you could gather enough power from full braking which could be useful if we could replace traditional brakes completely (which we can't do thanks to ancient legislation). OTOH with high power density batteries that is also possible, so maybe those rather than supercaps.

The process is too expensive and uses too much energy just to get a graphene battery.

I'm doubting it will happen any time soon. But you never know.

Well even if graphene batteries only become commercially viable in 20 years they will be another nail in the ICE car coffin.

I am not an engineer but do watch how rapidly material science changes things - look at hard drive capacities and costs from 1985 to 2005. Graphene or 3D printing of small components could have a similar impact on EV's.

It is possible that 50 years from now people will look at ICE cars like we look at steam engine locomotives now...

@ ikutoisahobo. The process of producing graphene is not expensive at all. The only reason of the high cost of graphene production so far has been that it has pretty much only been produced in laboratories. Of course producing anything (even your AA alkaline batteries) in a small scale on a laboratory would be expensive.

If you wanted to you could even be able to produce graphene yourself, using your home DVD player. (http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2012/March/graphene-dvd-player-bu...)

How can you say this is expensive? You mean there is no way to scale up a process that can be done safely at your own home using a DVD player? Don't forget that all that graphene is is pretty much a nano layer of carbon (pretty cheap stuff to come by too).

Please Google Targray Technology or Vorbeck Materials Corp.

I meant to say: "The only reason FOR the high cost of graphene"

Here is the link to the battery technology, that is here, today, NOW.

http://vorbeck.com/energy.html

Keep in mind that Tesla is not into battery manufacturing, they are a car company. I am sure that, when better batteries that fit the purpose become commercially viable, Tesla will be making efforts to incorporate them in their design. I am also sure that Tesla's engineers know about these technologies waaaay before we find the info on the intraweb.

Has anyone been able to find out more about Vorbeck materials and how legitimate they are?

There are tons of legitimate materials out there. There are batteries that will give you charge ranges of 1000+ miles.

The problem isn't with the tech, it is with the method. No one is going to buy a 1000+ mile battery car when it costs $20,000,000.

The trick isn't in producing a breakthrough item that costs $10 million, it is in producing 10 million breakthrough items that cost $1.

If you ever wonder why the US is pushing so hard for engineers from our population base in the future, it isn't because we are lacking in breakthroughs. It is because we are lacking in people who can translate that tech into viable manufacturing processes at a price point that makes sense.

That is exactly the reason for my question. On their website the company claims that they are working to bring this technology to market. Now, how legitimate is the COMPANY itself? Not talking about the product. It's not a publicly traded company and there is very little information anywhere on how close are they to bringing this technology to mass market as they promise.

Than the answer to your question as to whether or not Tesla is aware of these companies and materials is undoubtedly yes. They are aware.

Any company with a product, ie these battery companies, is going to seek out potential clients. If Vorbeck has a viable product, they will absolutely be looking at companies like Tesla and their distribution system to partner with for a revenue stream. I am always a little suspect of a company's public portrayal of themselves, as no one is going to say "well, we really don't have a product yet, and have no real potential as of now".

I think Graphene has the potential to be an exceptionally fantastic material with a plethora of uses. There have been recent process breakthroughs in aligning Graphene molecules into strings, which is critical to both material strength and energy storage.

Graphene is relatively easy to make in individual molecules, it is hard to make into a usable matrix. Still, it is hugely promising.

http://enviasystems.com
http://www.clbattery.com

These companies have been working on electrodes and optimum Li chemistries to double or more the battery energy density and lower costs. They are saying that real products will come in 2014-15. I think it will take longer to get mass production set-up, may be 3-5 years. They will have to be extensively tested for durability and safety.

In the mean time, Tesla is better off focussing on SC network deployment to extend range.

Abby
Actually I saw in a video that the Roadster Sport has a valet mode... I guess it shouldn't be too hard to include in on the model S.

FLsportscarenth...
I think it's quite likely that people in fifty years will look at ICE cars like steam engines and even like oxen carts someday. By then, ICE will likely be referred to as dinosaur cars... as soon as EVs become more popular than ICE cars in terms of new car sales, I think.

frmercado
I was doubtful at first, but I'm becoming pretty excited about graphene. Using a carbon-based material for energy material sounds pretty ideal, because carbon is light, has lots of "handles" for electrons, it is cheap, especially if graphene could be easily made from coal someday. Perhaps the solution is a combination of graphene and lithium, somehow. I'm no expert, but it will be interesting to see what the experts come up with... so many possibilities, I'm hopeful that someday a pretty ideal technology will be found. Need arising from commercialization of EVs and batteries creates the push for this research to take place, widely and quickly.

In the end, battery technology is bound to evolve in surprising ways. Increasing performance and decreasing costs are the only safe bets, but it's almost impossible to predict the breakthroughs and future technological trends. I think it's smart of Tesla to keep a close eye on battery tech but not be too invested directly in it, let other companies risk it and compete for the best tech and Tesla will benefit as price drops and performance improves. Similar to Solarcity buying PV panels instead of making them. Better to focus on the application.

here is another example of potential breakthrough technology, especially in faster recharge times (1000 times), but not lowering energy density

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130416151929.htm

Tesla is not going to be first using any of these technologies because they cannot afford the hit if they are unreliable. Laptop computers are the proving ground where a few million units can be fielded and get real world data. Tesla uses over 3 million batteries a week, so any kind of battery recall would kill Tesla.

I think that in the near term a few things can be done using existing technology to increase the range of the Model S with minimal incremental cost:
- Tesla could extend the battery pack into the Recess in the frunk. That is the space behind the net. May be enough to add an extra 20-30 KW-hr or up to 100 nominal miles. People do pay for extra range!
- Use stronger alloys such as Aluminum Magnesium aircraft grade alloys, etc. Minimal incremental cost, but weight savings could be significant. MS weighs 4,700 lbs. Exclude the 1000 for the battery pack and add 200 lbs for the required base place, and the car would still weigh 3,900 lbs without the weight of ICE. If it had an engine, it would weigh as much as Mercedes Benz S550 "Tiger Tank". I would think Tesla has the ability to improve using alloys, extruded metal, and improved structural design. Loose 500-1,000 lbs?
- Use more effective thermal lightweight insulation for the doors, floor, roof, etc. Glass could have stronger tinting and reflective coating. Less HVAC load, less battery load.
- Heated steering wheel would reduce the use of HVAC heating during cold weather.
- Smart cruise control would optimize flow with traffic and lessen the use of accelerator by the driver.
- Panasonic itself has developed and commercialized batteries that have 20-25% larger capacity. Not ready for prime time yet.

These kinds of improvements would make Model X more practical as well, especially of they loose weight by getting rid of the gull wing doors.

Tels can be successful just selling 50,000 MS+MX cars. Look at Porsche which sold mostly 911 and variants for decades. Now the SUV is their big revenue maker. They sell in the same range as Tesla or higher prices and similar volumes.

Bubba;
You're still thinking of TM as a conventional company, satisfied with profitable survival. Elon has bigger goals and plans, and those override many "safe" options like some you recommend. He wants to make EVs usual, not rare.

BrianH:
I am aware of the revolutionary goals that Elon has in mind. However, this revolution is dependent on advances in battery technology. Energy density has to 2x plus and costs have fall by 50% or more, in order to make the BEV affordable for the mass market. There are battery techs being developed to meet those goals, but I think it will take a minimum of 5 years to hit the mass market. Until that inflection point, Tesla has to generate GAAP profits and positive cash flow.

In fact, Tesla does need significant cash flow not only to service its debt but also to invest in Model X manufacturing equipment. Sure, it can go to the secondary market and sell shares, which it has done in the past. However, there is a limit to that. Meanwhile, competition will not stand still.


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