Originally published on CleanTechnica.
The UK-based company Dyson could follow in Tesla’s footsteps with regard to rapid growth in the electric vehicle sector, according to a professor of energy storage at Warwick University’s manufacturing group.
We’ve previously reported on the growing evidence Dyson is working on an electric vehicle (EV), and that the UK government is apparently partially funding the development.
Now, the cynical among us may want to reference personal experiences that we’ve had with various Dyson-branded products here … perhaps as an argument against Dyson’s chances of producing a quality EV. The fact remains, though, that the company has access to considerable resources, possesses government support, and appears to now possess what is possibly game-changing solid-state battery technology.
Those factors could well lead to the development of a compelling EV. Or not. But it seems something worth keeping an eye on.
The company previously revealed that it was planning to invest £1 billion into new battery technology. And, of course, the company purchased the solid-state battery firm Sakti3 back in October for $90 million. Sir James Dyson has claimed that the firm had “developed a breakthrough in battery technology.”
Notably, Sakti3 possesses a patent that states: “The present invention provides a method and system for an all solid-state rechargeable battery and a vehicle propulsion system powered by the battery.”
The Guardian provides more:
“Dyson have some excellent product engineering and some excellent marketing skills, so could they follow the same path as Tesla? Well, yes, probably they could,” said Prof David Greenwood, who leads the energy storage work at Warwick University’s manufacturing group, which the UK’s £1 billion Advanced Propulsion Centre chose to lead its battery programme.
…Greenwood said the three key factors for electric car batteries are low cost, safety and a high “energy density” which gives a long range. But currently they are expensive, he said, and cannot drive as far as petrol or diesel vehicles on a single charge. Solid-state batteries could provide a tenfold increase in energy density — how much power they pack in — and are also safer. This is because existing batteries use flammable organic solvents as an electrolyte (through which the current flows), whereas a solid electrolyte does not pose a fire risk and does not need expensive safety features. The solid electrolyte also means the battery electrodes can be made of a much more energy dense material, such as metallic lithium.
…Dyson’s battery company, Sakti3, has not disclosed the energy density it has achieved but industry experts estimate it has already passed 300Wh/kg. Sakti3’s patent states: “No solid state batteries with ceramic electrolytes have come close to achieving (our) level of energy density.”
Of course energy density is only one factor — durability, reliability, and competitive cost are requirements for use in something like an EV as well.
Greenwood mused further on the possibility of Dyson succeeding: “It worked for Tesla. Could they then scale it to be in the mass market? Who knows. Tesla have yet to prove they can do that. The challenges of entering the automotive industry are absolutely not to be underestimated. But at least with an electric vehicle the barriers to entry are a bit lower than for an internal combustion engine vehicle (because) the latter have some horrendously complex legislation to meet around emissions, for instance, which are simply not a problem for an electric vehicle as they do not have noxious emissions.”