Tesla has a brand-new “Director of Dry Electrode Development,” who appears to be a sought-after expert in the field. The US EV maker needs to finalize the new dry electrode manufacturing process for its 4680 battery cells, and the new director may be the answer.
While it seems like Tesla’s “Battery Day” event happened very long ago, it was only in 2020. At the time, Tesla and CEO Elon Musk made it quite clear that the 4680 cell situation was going to take time. Seemingly miraculously, the battery cells themselves appeared more quickly than most people expected, and we learned that Tesla was producing them in bulk.
It wasn’t long after Tesla’s Battery Day that we learned the company was producing its own 4680 cells at a facility near its Fremont factory, and it appeared to be going well. Moreover, Tesla had reached out to other battery makers to help. However, while Tesla, Panasonic, and others can already produce the batteries, the production process hasn’t reached the point where it will save a significant amount of time and money, at least not yet.
For Tesla’s 4680 battery cells to be produced at scale and become an integral part of its vehicles and future business plan, the company has to work out the issues with the tricky dry electrode manufacturing process. Tesla learned of the process and adapted it by acquiring a small battery company called Maxwell.
According to Electrek, the dry electrode coating process stands to be much easier than the typical “wet process,” and it uses less equipment. Tesla says it requires 10 times less space and energy than traditional EV battery manufacturing. Experts add that the process could reduce the cost of EV battery packs by thousands of dollars.
Sadly, Tesla hasn’t been able to get the process to the point that it’s worthwhile for the big picture and over the longer term. For this reason, it poached Matt Tyler, a mechanical engineer who studied at the Milwaukee School of Engineering and has been working on lithium-ion battery cells for many years.
Tyler recently left his position at 24M, a battery manufacturer out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to move to Fremont, California, and accept a position at Tesla. Electrek shared some details about 24M’s work from its official website:
“Invented in the MIT lab of Dr. Yet-Ming Chiang, SemiSolid electrodes use no binder, mixing electrolyte with active materials to form a clay-like slurry. The unique slurry allow us to create thick electrodes with less volume, mass and cost while enabling a simpler manufacturing process. It’s simpler and safer with more reliable performance.”
As you may notice, the work Tyler was doing at 24M seems to parallel the dry electrode process Tesla is trying to perfect. The battery expert worked at the company for the last six years and moved up to the position of vice president of advanced manufacturing. We can only hope Tyler is the answer to Tesla’s future 4680 battery cell success.