Futurism News

Tesla granted patent for charging metal-air battery packs, could better charging rate and distance

Elon Musk-backed Tesla Inc., formerly known as Tesla Motors Inc., has become the most popular electric vehicle manufacturer across the globe. Since its vehicles are all-electric, they run on massive battery packs placed in the wheelbase under the interiors. The company is said to heavily rely on lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, which are being manufactured at their huge Nevada-based Gigafactory.

Lithium-ion is the most prominent battery technology used popularly in mobile phones, and other electrical products. But, there was a lot of chatter about metal-air battery technology when Tesla was getting off the ground. It was further accompanied with word that the automaker is working on a metal-air/lithium-ion hybrid battery technology. It has already filed for several patents related to the said technology back in 2010, but there has been no update on that front until today.

First spotted by Electrek, the electric automaker has today been granted another patent for this metal-air battery technology. This battery is said to include a metallic anode just like the Lithium-ion battery (or Nickel used in Tesla batteries), but there is no fixed cathode in here. The oxygen from the surroundings is pumped into this setup and it acts as the cathode. Current batteries use Graphite as the cathode.

The said construction of the battery leads to a lighter construction and higher energy density, which in turn leads to a longer mile range for electric vehicles. This was the same response elicited by Musk when he first heard about Tesla’s lithium-ion-powered battery vehicles and it was what drove him to invest in the business. This technology will enable the company to better their mileage and improve charging.

Today’s patent revelation, granted on January 31, revolves around the charging mechanism employed by this emerging battery technology. The said technology has been described in the patent document as under:

A method for charging a metal-air battery pack at the maximum possible rate while maintaining an ambient oxygen concentration below a preset concentration is provided, thereby minimizing the risks associated with generating oxygen during the charging cycle.

It was initially filed by Tesla back in 2010 when it went on an application spree for obtaining confirmation of its metal-air battery packs. It was then modified in 2013 and the same has now been granted to the automaker. The said patent lists former Tesla co-founder and CEO JB Straubel as one of the inventors of the technology.

Also, just like every other technology patent, Tesla will open-source the newly awarded patent for charging related to their emerging battery technology. This can be used by any manufacturer who’s working towards the goal of building electric cars and Tesla only files for patents to secure their access to such technologies. Also, grabbing the patent doesn’t mean that the company will be incorporating the said technology into their vehicles anytime soon.