Tesla patents new lithium metal / anode-free battery cell technology

Tesla has applied for a patent on alternative electrolyte solutions for an alternative lithium metal or a battery cell without anode.

Tesla’s battery research partner Jeff Dahn and his team at Dalhousie University revealed the impressive test results on a new battery cell that could last more than 1 million miles in an electric vehicle. For Tesla, the team has been working to increase the energy density and battery cell durability while reducing costs.

Yet Dahn, who is a pioneer in Li-Ion battery technology, and his team have also focused on battery development of the next generation — beyond building on existing technology.

The team patented a “anode-free lithium-metal cell” for Tesla last year that they indicated it could be the next big thing in battery engineering rather than solid-state batteries.

They are also working on the new cells as demonstrated by Dahn’s new patent application team for the Canadian study group at Tesla: ‘Electrolytes with Lithium Difluoro(oxalato)borate and Lithium Tetrafluoroborate Salts for Lithium-metal and Anode-Free Battery Cells.’

Tesla writes in their patent application about the latest issues with lithium-metal batteries:

“Rechargeable batteries are an integral component of energy-storage systems for electric vehicles and for grid storage (for example, for backup power during a power outage, as part of a microgrid and so forth.). Some such rechargeable battery systems include lithium metal and anode-free lithium batteries. Lithium metal and anode-free lithium batteries have certain advantages over traditional lithium ion batteries, as they are more energy dense. Anode-free cells are also less expensive and easier to assemble due to their lack of anode coating. However, challenges with lithium metal and anode-free lithium batteries have prevented their wide spread adoption. Improving certain characteristics of lithium metal and anode-free battery systems will allow for more widespread use of such systems. For instance, developing electrolyte compositions that allow for commercially acceptable cycling performance of lithium metal and anode-free lithium batteries is critical to gaining adoption of such battery systems. Until the present disclosure, the general consensus in the industry is that an electrolyte with lithium difluoro(oxalato)borate (“LiDFOB”) salt alone best increases the capacity retention of lithium metal and anode-free lithium cells.”

In short, it offers great advantages when it comes to energy density and costs, but it needs improvements when it comes to longevity.

Dahn’s team claims that its new electrolyte would help improve just that:

“Provided are electrolyte solutions including both lithium difluoro(oxalato)borate and lithium tetrafluoroborate and a solvent component for use in lithium metal or anode-free rechargeable battery cell and methods of using the electrolyte solutions to improve capacity retention of the battery cells. Also provided are rechargeable battery systems including a lithium metal or anode-free battery cell and electrolyte solutions including both lithium difluoro(oxalato)borate and lithium tetrafluoroborate and a solvent component. The systems described herein exhibit improved capacity retention.”

They also released test results in the patent application showing improvements in battery retention ability, but they do not seem to have moved the cells past 50 cycles for now. To make them viable for commercialization, they will have to bring the batteries to several more cycles.

The Tesla team conducted work on a hybrid lithium-metal battery as an all-electric vehicle range extender. It’s important to remember that Tesla will also license inventions, like most other firms, that will never actually go into production.

Information on Tesla’s battery plans is scheduled to be revealed during its “Battery Day” on September 15th.

Reported by Electrek.

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