EV Design Prophet Sandy Munro is always worth listening to—he explains highly technical EV engineering topics in an engaging, accessible style. His most recent appearance was a discussion of the next generation of EV technologies, part of this week’s Spring 2021 Charged Virtual Conference on EV Engineering.
Munro covered an amazing amount of ground in this hour-long presentation, including several emerging EV technologies—solid-state batteries, mega-castings, and VTOLS—as well as a couple of bleeding-edge concepts that even the earliest adopters haven’t heard about yet.
Sandy gives us a wealth of information about Tesla’s plans to use so-called mega-castings for its vehicle chassis—an innovation that could deliver substantial savings in cost, production time and complexity. Next he discusses the next frontier in energy storage—will Tesla’s new 4680 cells, a future solid-state chemistry, or some form of hydrogen fuel cell win the day? (Here’s a hint: they all have their pros and cons, which Sandy explains in great technical detail.)
Tesla fans will find plenty to interest them here, as Sandy takes us through the history of the California carmaker’s gradually shrinking battery costs, and explains the Tesla mind-set that makes the company such an innovation factory.
The disadvantages of hydrogen fuel cells as an energy storage medium for vehicles are well known: poor efficiency; the difficulty of producing H2 from clean sources; and the heavy lift of developing an entirely new network of fueling infrastructure. However, Sandy clues us in to an emerging technology that I suspect few of us have heard of: light-activated hydrogen, which has the potential to deliver more energy density than batteries with few of the drawbacks of fuel cells. (If it were anyone other than Sandy talking about this, I’d probably dismiss them as yet another perpetual-motion purveyor, but watch the video and check out the data.)
That’s not the only news here—Sandy mentions a Tesla repair specialist that can restore old batteries to most of their original capacity at a fraction of the cost of a new pack; a new battery chemistry developed by GM that’s received almost no press coverage; and what’s going on at QuantumScape, a promising developer of solid-state battery tech that’s recently been the target of attacks in the press from a short-seller.
This information-packed presentation is well worth watching in its entirety.
The slides from Sandy Munro’s presentation are available here.
Sandy Munro’s keynote presentations from our September 2020 Virtual Conference on EV Engineering are available here: