Tesla Signs 5-Year Battery Research Deal With Dalhousie University


Dalhousie University

Dalhousie University

A surprise announcement coming out of Nova Scotia, Canada: Tesla Motors signs 5-year battery technology research deal with Dalhousie University.

Details of the deal come to us via Dalhousie University’s Nikki Comeau (we’ve bolded some of the highlights):

Charging onward: Dahn’s next move marks first Canadian university collaboration with Tesla Motors

When a Tesla Model S electric vehicle made an appearance at Dalhousie University yesterday, its near silent engine sound and sleek design prompted a symphony of “ohs and ahs” from impressed onlookers. But it was a brand new partnership between Tesla Motors and Dalhousie University that got members of the Dalhousie research community really excited.

On Tuesday morning Tesla Motor’s Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel signed a research agreement with Dalhousie University’s Jeff Dahn, lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery researcher with the Faculty of Science and his group of students, postdoctoral researchers and technical staff. The work is set to begin in June of 2016.

During a presentation to Dalhousie researchers and representatives, Straubel discussed the importance of the Li-ion battery to the future of Tesla Motors and the recently announced battery business Tesla Energy, a suite of batteries for homes, businesses, and utilities. The Silicon Valley giant is not just an automotive company, it’s an energy innovation company.

“Dalhousie is a national and international leader in advanced materials and clean technology research,” says Martha Crago, Vice-President, Research at Dalhousie. “Jeff Dahn is helping to develop Li-ion batteries with improved lifetime, increased energy density and lower cost. This collaboration is a natural fit.”

Creating a force with electric cars

Consider the state of the art Li-ion battery that powers the Model S, which can accelerate to 100 km/h in under five seconds, and the electric car’s impressive engineering and design innovation really sinks in.

Tesla Motors isn’t shy about its mission to accelerate the transition to sustainable transportation around the world. To do so, it plans to expand beyond a niche market and produce hundreds of thousands of cars a year and change the entire automotive industry.

To drive this change, Tesla is building a Gigafactory in Nevada that aims to double world production of Li-ion batteries by 2020. In an effort to bring down the price of Tesla vehicles for the mass market, Tesla will manufacture Li-ion batteries with longer lifespans that cost less to create and be sourced with more materials from North America.

When Dahn learned of Tesla’s planned Gigafactory, he wanted in.

“I had to be a part of it,” says Dahn. “It’s the next step.”

Currently, 3M Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) fund Dahn’s Industrial Research Chair in Materials for Advanced Batteries. The agreement, long-standing since 1996, is set to end in June 2016.

“I’m so thankful for 3M Canada and NSERC’s support over the years. We’ve had many successes together that have created products for 3M, which are key milestones in my career and in my students’ careers,” says Dahn. He references the development of the nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) positive electrode material—now used in the vast majority of electric vehicles and power tools around the world—as the most notable success of the partnership.

Sustainable power

The new collaboration, a first between the leading American electric vehicle company and a Canadian university, will bring together the teams of Dahn and Tesla’s Director of Battery Technology, Kurt Kelty. Both teams are committed to powering as much as possible with Li-ion batteries that pack a mean punch in the fight against climate change.

Dahn, recognized as one of the pioneering developers of the Li-ion battery, explains that increasing the energy density of batteries through improved materials is the best way to achieve lower cost.

“Our research group’s goal is to increase the energy density and lifetime of Li-ion batteries, so we can drive down costs in automotive and grid energy storage applications,” says Dahn.

Charging onward

Jeff Dahn has 25 researchers in his lab, including graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and technical staff. All of them will be involved in the partnership. As the next generation of battery researchers, they get invaluable exposure to a leading industry partner committed to the worldwide benefits of electrifying the world through innovative batteries.

For now, Dahn continues to work with 3M Canada until their current research agreement ends in June 2016. Then, Dahn and his research group will begin their exclusive five-year partnership with Tesla.

Source: Dalhousie University

Categories: Battery Tech, Tesla

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22 Comments on "Tesla Signs 5-Year Battery Research Deal With Dalhousie University"

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At least one of Dahn’s graduate students now work at Tesla so there has been something of a connection previously. Dahn is also known for working with private industry, most recently in developing electrolytes.

For those who don’t know, Dahn and 3M hold the NMC patents outside the North America. Argonne holds them for NA. And there is quite a patent fight going on.

Isn’t this the group that does very precise coulombic efficiency readings in order to predict how changes to a cell affect longevity? They can give you an answer in days instead of months.

@sublime, you are correct. Jeff Dahn is the real deal.

A very insightful lecture can be viewed here:

It is a pretty good video of crash course on lithium ion battery testing.

Wow! Mind blowing. Thanks for posting that video.

I built a wooden Dollhousie for my daughter a few years back…:)

* I’m sorry, is that not relevant? 🙂

I think about how much refinement and advancement of the infernal-combustion engine has occurred over the last century and remember that this surge in battery research hasn’t been at this high pitch – ever. Battery development has been on a slow crawl upward over the years. My dad bought an alkaline battery charger from a gizmo catalog and used it for a few years, saving good money on cyclically buying replacement batteries for everything around the house. I tried to find such a device a couple years later, only to find only a schematic of the charger and similar devices sold only in the U.K. and overseas. It was not greatly known that the established alkaline battery industry quietly bought up the patent rights for those chargers in N. America and sat on them for decades, allowing you and I to go out dutifully and buy their products again and again. I finally found an alkaline battery charger on Canadian eBay and snatched it up. It’s worked fantastically for me and I get so much more use out of batteries before they go the way of the hazmat recycle bin. Finally, 20 years later, Energizer came out with AA lithium… Read more »

* I forgot to mention while Googling to my heart’s content where to find an alkaline charger for small cells – several “articles”, usually put out by the battery companies or their shills explaining how dangerous it is to charge alkaline cells. In-between the lines should’ve been, “without the circuitry we made sure you cannot buy” , but found on schematics by consumer advocates hoping to allow us all to make our own!

Thank you I didn’t know that Alkaline batteries can be recharged.

As with most things that are actually interesting, there’s a Wikipedia article on that:


Looks like James is lucky not to have had one of those recharged batteries explode on him. If you read the Wiki article, you can see how a charger could be designed to reduce the risk of explosion, but certainly not eliminate it.

Contrary to conspiracy theory espoused in James’ comment, such chargers are not outlawed in the USA to protect corporate profits, but because it actually is unsafe to recharge alkaline batteries that are not designed to be recharged.

“lucky”?! That is sooo funny. Since when is Wikipedia a faultless, unbiased basis of information? Come on, guy!

The alkaline chargers used to be readily available from companies like Sharper Image and Brookstone. It wasn’t some “great danger” that took them off the shelves. It was highly paid lawyers who work for mega-large monopolistic alkaline battery corporations.

My dad’s original charger is still going strong, 1,000s of charges later – Mine? I gave it to my brother, who was into small R/C airplanes and was going through AA batteries like they were going out of style. Both units work flawlessly, have gauges on them of battery strength, and we get far more than 10 charges out of each battery.

Don’t believe everything you’re told. The pulsing circuitry allows the battery to rest betwee charge cycles. No stories from Europe – no big sensationalist string of “exploding batteries” have come to pass.

Relax. It’s plain to see how we often are lead to believe what we are told – and not willing to do the research to find out the whole truth.

I forgot to mention an Asian product, labeled and sold in the USA as the “Buddy L” alkaline charger. Again, no news stories of people badly burned by exploding alkalines…It was a lower-priced charger without charge meters, and only charged two batteries ( D, C, AA and AAA ) at once. I found one on eBay and mine worked for 3 years until one of the metal contact strips broke – again a cheaper-made product. They still can be found on eBay or Craigslist – sometimes labeled as different brands.

I’m now searching for another charger from Canada or Europe…I just don’t want to pay shipping from across the pond.

Hey, good news. It’s tough sharing things with your brother who often forgets it’s a loan….So I looked up alkaline chargers on eBay and it seems some companies have found ways around the alkaline battery cartel. Here are just a few I found.


that red

Isn’t Mr. Dahn overrated, and just happened to be lucky through connections? The subject he teaches is not a secret, and there are many universities and PhD students that are studying the same science. I hope he doesn’t become another cook in the kitchen or that uncle who hangs out in your garage annoying you with things you already knew. If he and his grad students just become primadonnas in the Gigafactory work space it’ll be trouble.

This is Musk we are talking about. His BS tolerance is incredibly low. Trust his judgement on this.

The stock went up on this news, so it seems others would tend to agree with you.

Wonderful news! Tesla Motors has been pushing the EV revolution forward; now it looks like they’ll be on the cutting edge of advancing battery chemistry.

It’s great to see that Tesla will be able to get the latest NMC chemistry tech from this company. It has been rumored that an advancement in NMC chemistry is what has enabled LC Chem to offer a significantly lower per-kWh price for its batteries, to be used in EVs starting in 2017.


Those who have expressed worries about Tesla’s Gigafactory being rendered obsolete by an advance in battery tech should feel better today, with this news.

I imagine a long phone conversation amounting to:

“come and worx for us”

“why in hell would I do that? On the Other hand, a rather critical contract is sunsetting, and uhmm.. with the right incentive..”



After reading “Powerhouse”, in which Tesla’s solution is better “engineering”, not better “chemistry”, I was very surprised by this move. But after watching the Duhn lecture above it seems this is still an “engineering” solution via quicker, more accurate battery testing without necessarily understanding why one chemistry is better than another.

Still a smart move, and nearly pre-commits me to the model 3 over competing 200 mile EVs. Especially after visualizing how much better cycle life Tesla’s battery is expected to have.