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Tesla could be considering a manganese battery, says Elon Musk

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You’re here started offering electric cars with a new battery chemistry in some areas quite recently: Lithium iron phosphate (LFP). While it’s not exactly new in terms of development and deployment in vehicles, it’s new to some Tesla cars in certain areas. Now, according to the CEO Elon Muskthe company could move forward with another chemistry that uses a manganese-based cathode.

Musk has made it clear over the years that he doesn’t really believe in “drum breakthroughs”, at least in the traditional sense. That is to say, he doesn’t expect a crazy new battery format to revolutionize the EV industry overnight. The companies have been working on solid-state batteries for years, and while they’re often reported as breakthroughs, they’re still not used in production electric cars.

That said, Tesla certainly played around with different battery chemistries. One of the advantages of electric cars over gasoline-powered cars is the ability to produce battery cells with a variety of materials. This is not only useful if a certain material is difficult to obtain or too expensive, but it can also help battery manufacturers with safety, efficiency, longevity, performance, and responsible and sustainable sourcing.

Depending on a battery’s chemistry, it can be more efficient and/or provide better performance, among many other variables. The goal would be to ensure chemistry that offers the absolute best balance between performance and efficiency, while being safe, durable, as energy-dense as possible and relatively easy to recycle.

musk recently gave a long speech to the workers at the Tesla factory on the occasion of the inauguration of the new Gigafactory near Berlin, Germany. He also took the time to answer questions from participants. We published an article highlighting the speech, and also included the video above. It’s packed with juicy new information about Tesla’s present and future.

During his keynote, Musk said an industry focus on battery supply chain materials is paramount to the future of electric vehicles. A participant asked Musk about graphene-based batteries. The CEO noted the complexity of managing graphene before confirming that Tesla will continue to rely on nickel-based battery chemistries for longer-range cars and LFP for shorter-range versions. He also mentioned the potential use of manganese. Musk said via Electrek:

“I think there is some interesting potential for manganese.”

Although this may have surprised some people, Electrek reminds us that Musk talked about manganese within the company. Battery Day 2020, when he revealed Tesla’s 4680 battery cell concept. Musk shared:

“It’s relatively simple to make a cathode that’s two-thirds nickel and one-third manganese, which will allow us to produce 50% more cell volume with the same amount of nickel.”

Beyond the previous comment and the mention of manganese in his recent speech, not much is known about Tesla’s potential for future manganese-based batteries. However, the CEO made it clear that for Tesla to scale massively, it must use common materials.

According to Electrek, Tesla is not the only company investigating the use of manganese for batteries. Many research groups have already published studies on the use of manganese-based cathodes for higher energy density and lower costs. Check out articles highlighting manganese below.