Battery Technology – The Journey so Far
Tesla Powerpack

Battery Technology – The Journey so Far

Electric vehicles are some of the most exciting prospects in terms of looking to the future, however the most important part of the vehicle is often overlooked! In this blog we’ll be taking a wee look at battery technology, how it works, its evolution over the years as well as the future, with a focus on the Tesla Powerpack.

Before we dive into things, let’s take a quick look at the basics of batteries. Batteries use stored chemical energy, which is then converted into electrical energy using electron flow from the anode to the cathode.

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An Image of an Alkaline Battery from Energizer.

In terms of popularity, the Alkaline battery has been at the forefront for over 60 years! Over 10 billion have been made worldwide, using zinc and manganese oxide to generally power a range of items, most commonly household appliances. Although they are not generally chargeable, Alkaline batteries can include barium sulfate in the cathode mix, as well as hydrogen to enable them to be recharged.

In comparison to Alkaline batteries, the Nickel-Metal Hydride is much more environmentally friendly, utilising a NiMH formulation containing a hydrogen-absorbing alloy. These rechargeable batteries were generally AA sized and used in a range of different products, although it was focused on items such as power tools, they were also part of early hybrid and electric vehicles such as the Toyota Prius.

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A diagram breaking down a Lithium Ion Battery.

Following on from this is the lithium ion battery! These bad boys have a huge energy density, with a range of different applications due to the whole host of different cathode formulations.

A prime example of this would be it’s 2 most popular combinations, the lithium, cobalt-oxide batteries are mostly used in small electronic devices such as laptops, smartphones etc. The latter combination being lithium nickel aluminium oxide, which is used in the batteries of electric vehicles, the most prolific of which Tesla Model S’s.

This brings us nicely onto the mighty Tesla Powerpack, the amount of different uses for this is absolutely mind-blowing, from effectively storing the output of renewable power, to creating localised grids.

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An image of a Tesla Powerpack.

Even at a glance we can see the Powerpack being applied across the world, with Tesla claiming to have built the world’s biggest battery in Australia, using a number of the Powerpacks to power up to 50,000 homes.

Meanwhile, on Ta’u – in the Samoan Islands, a microgrid consisting of 60 Powerpacks powers 100% of the island using solar energy, transitioning from diesel.

Meanwhile a little closer to home, the Shetland islands have installed Powerpacks to the tidal power station, storing power to be used when the turbines don’t produce enough electricity.

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An image of a Tidal Turbine from Shetland.

And there we have it! A brief look at how batteries have evolved over the years, is the Tesla Powerpack the best we have right now? What do you hope to see for the future? Let us know!

Sources:
https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/archive/is_lithium_ion_the_ideal_battery
https://www.tesla.com/en_GB/powerpack
https://www.visualcapitalist.com/evolution-of-battery-technology/
https://www.powerelectronicsnews.com/technology/a-revolution-alongside-an-evolution-pushes-battery-technology-forward
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_cobalt_oxide
https://www.businessinsider.com/tesla-powerpack-uses-2017-7?r=US&IR=T
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/02/tau-american-samoa-solar-power-microgrid-tesla-solarcity/
https://www.power-technology.com/news/tesla-powerpack-battery-storage-system/

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