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Tesla's Elon Musk says new manganese battery may be key to scaling EV production

Elon Musk's Berlin Gigafactory speech (image: Tesla Welt)
Elon Musk's Berlin Gigafactory speech (image: Tesla Welt)
In a speech to Tesla Gigafactory Berlin employees during the factory's opening ceremony, Elon Musk confirmed that they are exploring manganese as a cathode material. In order to scale EV batteries to the 300 terawatt-hours of annual production needed to achieve sustainable transportation, he said, alternatives to affordable LFP battery materials will be needed.

Elon Musk has been a proponent of using manganese as cathode material in electric vehicle batteries and he just reiterated his preferences during the Tesla Gigafactory Berlin opening ceremony. Asked about the potential of graphene as battery-making material while making a speech before the German Gigafactory employees, Elon Musk countered with the "I think there’s an interesting potential for manganese" reply instead. That's not the first time that Tesla's CEO has mentioned they are exploring manganese as an alternative to the current iron or phosphorus the company uses in the LFP batteries for its standard range vehicles.

According to Musk, the world will need no less than 300 terawatt-hours (TWh) of battery cell production at some point in order to completely switch from fossil fuels. Such scale can only be achieved with materials that are cheap and plentiful like the ones in LFP battery packs and, well, manganese. The recent stratospheric rise in the price of nickel induced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine only proved Tesla's CEO right on that count as the common nickel-cobalt-aluminum battery materials that go into extended range electric cars are anything but cheap and plentiful. 

This is why Elon Musk wants to add manganese to the iron and phosphorus used to produce more affordable EV batteries in order to ultimately have a shot at achieving the hundreds of TWh/year production needed on the way to sustainable transportation. Tesla has already been using manganese in some of its Powerwall battery cells but at yesterday's Giga Berlin opening ceremony Elon Musk said that it can and should become a viable alternative to the common battery materials used now, since "at very large scale, we need tens, maybe hundreds of millions of tons ultimately. So the materials used to produce these batteries at a very large scale need to be common materials or you can’t scale."

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2022 03 > Tesla's Elon Musk says new manganese battery may be key to scaling EV production
Daniel Zlatev, 2022-03-23 (Update: 2022-03-23)