Why aren’t we using batteries that last 10 times longer? Elon Musk responds…

When id Software co-founder John Carmack discussed electric vehicle battery materials on Twitter, none other than Tesla, Inc. TSLA CEO Elon Musk chimed in with his view.

Carmack, a computer programmer and video-game developer, said when he looks at electronics with weakening batteries, he wonders about the potential of bulkier lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries. These have 40% less energy density but 10 times the lifespan, he noted.

Energy density is the amount of energy in a given mass, and in a battery, it is the measure of the amount of energy that a battery contains in relation to its weight. LFP batteries are supposed to have about 15-25% less energy density than alternatives.

Carmack pointed out that there isn’t much demand for 10-year lifespan consumer electronics. “Of course, easily replaceable batteries can also address the problem!” he added.

See also: Did Elon Musk Just Beat Apple To The Punch? This Analyst Thinks So

In reply, Musk said high cycle life is possible with nickel cathode if optimizing for that purpose. Adding silicon to the anode, primarily carbon anode, improves energy density, and reduces cycle life, due to large volumetric changes during charge/discharge, he added.

Lithium-ion is the commonly used chemistry in EV batteries, although most EV makers have started using LFP batteries, given their cost competitiveness and longer life.

Originally published on Aug. 28, 2022.

Photo: Created with an image from TED Conference on flickr 


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