On Electrek today, we reported that Tesla’s battery research partner announced that they managed to double the lifetime of the batteries in Tesla’s products 4 years ahead of time.
They achieved that through a new method to test battery cell longevity and we now learn that Apple also bought the same machines developed through the method.
Jeff Dahn is a renowned battery researcher credited for several inventions that led to the succesful early development of li-ion cells, which is now the battery of choice for personal electronics and electric vehicles.
He is now the leader of Tesla’s research partnership through his battery-research group at Dalhousie University.
Last year, Dahn transitioned the group from their 20-year research agreement with 3M to a new association with Tesla under the newly formed ‘NSERC/Tesla Canada Industrial Research’.
Through the agreement, Tesla invested in a new research lab close to Dahn’s group near Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The bulk of his team’s research now focuses on extending battery cell life and in order to do so, the team worked on developing new equipment to accurately monitor cells during charging and discharging to identify causes for degradation and predict longevity.
The development of those new equipment predates the partnership with Tesla, but it is central to their research.
Of the two main researchers on the project, one went on to work for Tesla’s in-house battery cell research group and another started a company to commercialize the battery cell testing machines that they developed. The first two pictures are the machines that they developed at the lab and the last one is of the commercial machine sold by Novonix:
The system is equipped with up to 40 channels of ultra high precision chargers. They describe the capacity on their website:
“Our high precision charger systems have been shown to measure the coulombic efficiency of cells to typically less than 10 ppm precision and 50 ppm accuracy. These systems have 2 Amp maximum current over a 0-5 Volt range with integrated temperature sensing (4-wire class A RTD) on every channel.”
During a talk at MIT this week, Dahn confirmed that Apple is among Novonix’s clients. OEMs who buy batteries in large volumes can benefit from more accurately being able to predict their longevity.
Several battery cell manufacturers are also among Novonix’s clients, including China’s ATL, one of Apple’s battery suppliers.