Tesla patent paves way for compact battery systems that are easier to produce

Tesla’s use of batteries for its electric vehicles are crucial to their function. The company’s battery systems are the industry standard as they offer more range and density than their competitors. But despite this lead, a recently submitted patent for an aggregated battery system could put Tesla’s batteries head-and-shoulders above the rest of the pack, bar none.

While Tesla’s current battery system is top of the line, it could still be more cost-effective. Batteries themselves cost a lot to manufacture for Tesla, and not to mention, a lot to replace for an owner. The aim of the company’s newly submitted patent is to create a more efficient system that would simplify the entire battery component by combining the multiple battery systems into one single module.

Small battery cells are more advantageous than large battery cells for a number of reasons, including time, safety, thermal management and production of energy. All of these factors would highlight the advantages of small battery systems and would allow for an increase in the productivity of battery cells. The smaller cells means “a shorter length of electrode material that is devoid of material defects would be required.”

A battery pack made up of multiple battery systems grouped together and positioned within a container. (Credit: US Patent Office)

The new system would arrange the battery cells in an upright manner. The multiple cells would then function with one another by being connected to a series of collector plates with tabs on both the positive and negative ends of the battery. The tabs would then be connected to a positive or negative terminal of the battery cell. This would be done with multiple series of batteries that all have different responsibilities throughout the vehicle. They would all, however, be housed within a single battery container, allowing engineers or service workers easy access to each battery system.

The addition of this new patent could help reduce costs by utilizing smaller battery cells in battery systems. The patent states that while production will increase due to the reduced size and need for materials, the small cells can increase the complexity of the manufacturing of the systems. This makes Tesla’s batteries even easier to produce.

“For instance, with use of many small format cells, it is envisioned that several electrical interconnects could be required to accomplish the conveyance of current from the large number of small format cells and this may also contribute to the complexity in design and manufacture of the battery system. The battery cell could also have some functionalities that may be redundant when aggregated into the battery system. As each battery cell would be manufactured independently of others, time and resources would need to be spent thereafter for combining the cells and for forming the interconnects to the current collectors typically, though a welding, or soldering process. Hence, there is a need to produce battery modules in a simplified manner.”

The innovations offered by Tesla’s recently published patent could allow the electric car maker to equip its vehicles with battery packs that are both compact and high-density. This would be pivotal to upcoming vehicles such as the next-generation Roadster, the Tesla Pickup Truck, and the Tesla Semi, all of which are expected to require large batteries to achieve their target range, and thus would require large numbers of cells from the electric car maker.

Tesla is the head of the pack in terms of batteries, as the company’s vehicles have considerably longer ranges than the vehicle’s of its competitors. For example, a Tesla Model S Performance variant contains a 100 kWh battery, with a WLTP estimated 365 miles of range when charged to its capacity. The newly released Porsche Taycan Turbo S contains a 93.4 kWh battery with a WLTP estimated 256 miles of range on a full charge.

The full text of Tesla’s novel battery design patent could be accessed here.

Tesla patent paves way for compact battery systems that are easier to produce
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