Panasonic is working on a new bigger and better battery for Tesla that is in line with the EV company’s cobalt-less yet denser energy endeavors. The 2170 lithium-ion battery cell that is under development right now is intended to not consume a huge amount of cobalt, but still retain, and even improve its performance capacity.
This has been the mission of Panasonic in the production of battery cells for Tesla. The production is going to be done at Gigafactory Nevada where Tesla will contribute to the chemical formulation of the battery cell. Speculations have said that the new cell is already at its highest capacity of an energy density of 700 watt hours in every liter.
Energy density determines the distance that an EV can cover at a single full charge. With the new upgrade, battery cells can be reduced to a much smaller size and have more space in the car interior. Production is set to start in September. Thirteen lines will produce 35 gigawatt hours of battery power every year.
President of the North American branch of Panasonic, Alan Swann, says to not confuse their project with that of Tesla’s Roadrunner. It will be a huge breakthrough for Panasonic.
This upcoming project is a step closer to achieving Tesla’s objective to enhance the power of EV batteries while lowering the overall manufacturing cost of an electric vehicle. Partnership with Panasonic has been a significant help towards that goal, and the collaboration is set to continue until 2023.
The chain begins with Panasonic making the battery cells that Tesla will use to incorporate into their battery packs, specifically for model 3 and also for the new model Y.
Battery electrodes contain an electrolyte that transmits charged particles to and from both the cathode and anode whenever the battery is operational. An increase in energy density implies that more power is being transported back and forth in that electrolyte. The 20% improvement in the cell will ultimately reflect in the pack as well.
Using less cobalt in the EV battery hits many birds with one stone. As mentioned, it could bring down the price of an electric car, making it more affordable and accessible by more people while having it to be cost-effective as well by the increase in its range.
A representative of Panasonic says that the company “plans to boost the energy density of 2170 battery cells it supplies to Tesla Inc by 20% in five years and commercialize a cobalt-free version in two to three years.”
The battery used in the model S and Model X is the Li-ion 18650. This has been upgraded the same way that 2170 will be. It uses a “Nickel-Cobalt-Aluminum cathode chemistry”, three elements of massive energy conducting abilities. The amount of cobalt consumed is not divulged, though they assured it was less than 2% of the overall global demand. With an entirely cobalt-free battery, the company would no longer depend on the cobalt supply which is expensive and comes with negative repercussions anyway.
Panasonic is not the only battery supplier of Tesla anymore. The leading electric car maker has also built alliances with CATL in China for the lithium iron phosphate batteries (which is completely free of cobalt), and LG Chem of South Korea.
Tesla Battery Day is intended to take place on September 15 at the Fremont factory, following the scheduled commencement of production. Elon Musk is planning to present its “million-mile battery” idea sometime towards the end of the year or early 2021.
Tesla is working on an internal production of their own line of battery cells, and it won’t be long before they cease to rely on third-party suppliers, and even begin to supply other car makers.