For starters, the company has an energy-absorbing liquid electrolyte. The battery cells are stacked in a pyramid to make them easier to fit into the space between the electrodes, preventing overspill and causing the liquid to run off. The battery cell is then separated from the electrolyte, which is used for the cathode material. The battery is charged to 5 volts with an external electrical supply.
It is possible to charge electric cars with any form of electricity, from electricity to solar panels or even solar thermal-energy storage devices like batteries.
Tesla can then generate electricity by turning off all the batteries, but it’s an expensive process, according to Tse. He likens the process to “spinning down” your car. The only way to generate electricity directly is to use batteries, so Tesla has found ways around that.
“They did not have the storage capability to create their own electricity on site,” Tse said. “They would have to buy power through the grid. The grid has to have power on it.”
He cited the case of Tesla Inc.’s Powerwall, a home energy storage device which uses solar and batteries to charge the home. Solar power can sometimes be expensive, although for small homes the devices are cheaper because they don’t have to worry about expensive equipment maintenance.
Tesla also has a battery that can be used to store power for when a home or business fails, according to a 2014 report by energy consultant Michael Sivak.
Tesla has a policy that allows customers to cancel their Powerwall batteries after a certain period of time, Tse said. The company did the same with its solar panels, although the company told CNBC they aren’t able to give any guarantees until there is a customer who purchased the panels through SolarCity, the company’s solar-paneled installer.
Tse says customers’ energy bills aren’t high enough to warrant using more electricity than the system charges for. The batteries have a long lifetime, he said, and Tesla is making adjustments to their installation so that they last longer.
“There’s no point in having it on for 100 hours,” Tse said. “If the system is running for 200 hours, why not just get your next $400 car?”
The second chapter of this week’s AHA Weekly Podcast, with guest author James M. Cain about his new book “Grammar of Mindfulness: A Comprehensive Guide for Living a Mindful Life and Living A Well-Being”.