Published on August 25th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan


500-Mile Tesla Graphene Battery?

August 25th, 2014 by  

elon-musk1Word on the street is that Tesla may be working on a 500-mile graphene battery. Graphene is, of course, a kind of supermaterial, and it’s possible Tesla is looking into it, but I’m also a bit skeptical.

First, let’s look at the reasons why someone might think Tesla is working on an electric car battery that uses graphene. Graphene could increase the energy density of EV batteries, could allow for faster charging, and could very well lead to an electric car with 500 miles of range. Furthermore, a Chinese website stated that Tesla was working on one, and Tesla’s Elon Musk recently stated that a 500-mile EV battery could be available “soon.”

On the other hand… graphene production has hardly gotten started (if it actually has, which seems to be up for debate); graphene is certainly anything but cheap right now; graphene still has some health risks that need to be investigated; in an annual Tesla presentation and Q&A a few months ago, Elon Musk was asked about battery breakthroughs and I thought Elon indicated pretty clearly that Tesla hadn’t seen any; Tesla’s big new focus this year has been on building a battery Gigafactory with Panasonic that would reportedly manufacture the same lithium-ion batteries Tesla uses right now. Economies of scale, not a change in materials, is supposed to bring costs down. Elon stated that they are of course going to build the factory in a way that it could manufacture some new battery cells if something big came along, but, iirc, indicated that Tesla hadn’t seen anything better than what they have.

And it just seems odd to me that someone at Tesla would leak such information to a Chinese news agency before anyone else had a clue about it.

That said, one never knows what may be up Tesla’s sleeve.

via GAS2

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • EdwardInFlorida

    When it comes to Elon Musk, the naysayers and skeptics sure must love being proved wrong again, and again, and again. That’s called being “gluttons for punishment”.

  • jjca

    How fast? 65mph?

  • vacuumbilly

    Clean Technica have a writer from Edmonton, get him to cover this graphene competitor:
    Stan Ovshinsky offered high mileage energy storage in the 1990’s to GM and their cancelled EV 1. A crystal lattice capacitor offers the energy density of carry a nuclear reactor around in the palm of your hand. There is no energy shortage provided we move past a linear “heat” definition of energy and into quantum “spin” geometry which use “angular momentum” as the right brain visual definition. Follow INFINERA and their photonic chip development. Or D-Wave and their quantum computing. UCLA developed a holographic processor called “the CUBE’ in 1988.
    FINCEN , VISA and MASTERCARD use the Cube today.
    Some websites for further study include:
    A fractal algorithm is what allows Google Instant to search so quickly. Apply the same logic to a charging station and you can compress phase conjugation, ie. Time. Do some reading on Antoine Priore, phase conjugation and health.

    The QCD or quantum chromo dynamic lattice is explained in articles at this website:
    The QCD explains the energy of space, sometimes referred to as a vacuum (wrong).

    • sault

      You need to read some real scientific papers on these subjects instead of just reading the unfiltered rantings on blogs.

      • vacuumbilly

        You need to think for yourself rather than sticking to false dogma.

        I have an engineering degree from universe city and am way past that Newtonian based reality. Do some homework on ternary logic as used in 1958 at the U of Moscow in their computer; Setun 70.

        Dump the zero from your mathematics as it is an abstract. Use nature as your teacher and get Michael Schneider’s book, “A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe”, his website is :

        Once you conclude that their is nothing flat except the shadows of a torus that comprise the alpha-beta, the very letters you write with, you might want to research the work of Dr. Robert Moon and his 3D periodic table:

        Then you can use your heart ( 5 muscles inside 7 muscles ) which “spins” blood into plasma to feel the details of the Chesterhedron:
        Otherwise go back to flatland.

  • Mike Watkins

    This is a bit off topic…could someone tell me the approximate cost of recharging a 500 mile battery…i have never seen that in anywhere

    • Bob_Wallace

      Well, we could do a very rough estimate.

      Let’s say you use about 0.3 kWh/mile. If you are recharging the entire “500 miles” that would be 150 kWh.

      If you were paying the US average of $0.12/kWh that would be about $18.

      Of course if you charge overnight with lower cost electricity it’s going to be less than $18.

      Just for comparison, driving 500 miles is a 50 MPG car. 10 gallons of gas. At current average price of $3.59 that would be $35.90.

      500 miles in a 30 MPG car would cost $59.83.

      • Kyle Field

        or more realistically here in america…20mpg = 25 gallons @ $3.59/gallon = $89.75 (ouch!)

        • CaptD

          Which is why eVehicles will become ever more popular.

          • ColterSisler

            not in Texas, apparently here you are a jack ass if you don’t have a truck with low MPG.

            In houston the other day saw a lifted truck that had a license plate saying “MPGLOL”

          • Kyle Field

            Can’t win ’em all…

          • CaptD

            Every day more will switch to eVehicles…

      • CaptD

        Bob – Consider those that have large roofs and plenty of sunshine that also have these G-Batteries installed as part of their own Solar system, they cold then recharge their vehicles G-Battery for free at home on an as needed basis, which would then save them both time and money whenever they travel by eVehicle.

        I believe that 10 to 15 years from now batteries will be an order of magnitude better than they are now if not long before then.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I suspect we’ll see a significant portion of drivers plug in at work/school. Some will charge “off their own panels” by sending power to the grid at home and taking power out of the grid in a different location.

          It will likely be cheaper to pay the utility company something to transport ones electricity than to store it.

          • jeffhre

            “It will likely be cheaper to pay the utility company something to transport ones electricity than to store it.” Aha! A remarkable concept – the grid as battery.

          • CaptD

            Until the Utilities pay fair price for the Energy ratepayers add to the Grid, adding batteries, and especially eVehicle batteries is a better solution long term, especially if you have lots of panels.

          • jeffhre

            Huh? Better have lot’s of cash on hand too!

            Just like it’s a better idea to have a perfect life in a tropical paradise, but unless your specialty is hospitality services or your dad inherited a tropical island, don’t count on it as your most likely option!

          • CaptD

            Not really since most will also be connected to the Grid, if they need additional Energy they can buy it to supplement what they generate on their own.

            Long term self generation is less expensive, which is why Big Utilities are trying to lock in expensive Utility generation that ratepayers will have to pay for in the future.

          • jeffhre

            Only if “adding batteries, and especially eVehicle batteries…especially if you have lots of panels,” is also inexpensive.

          • CaptD

            NOT AS EXPENSIVE, which is most important especially during the 35+ year life span of Solar…

          • jeffhre

            Using the grid as a battery works much better if the utility actually has in mind the idea of fulfilling the needs of it’s customers in a financially prudent and expeditious manner. See municipal utilities, coops, micro-grids, California Assembly Bill 117 (AB 117) the Community Choice Aggregation Law and community choice aggregation services.

          • CaptD

            Ha Ha Ha
            In CA Comm. Agg. is being fought tooth and nail by the Utilities who say it is OK but in reality do not want to lose market share.

            In SoCal, the number of Solar installations are rising and as soon as Tesla’s Giga battery factory is completed look for Utilities to cry poor me…

          • jeffhre

            Yes, they (IOU’s) are also telling customers how much they support lovely clean solar. And dramatically raising the prices of those who deploy it at every opportunity. Hence my post above.

          • CaptD

            The IOU’s will sell Energy for less than the Big Utilities, so your point is moot.

          • martykayzee

            One should plan to make one’s own power.

          • jeffhre

            I do, it doesn’t work at night though!

          • martykayzee

            One should better plan one’s power needs.

          • CaptD

            I’m thinking that the Giga-Factory will make owning your own batteries more cost effective.

          • Bob_Wallace


            But batteries would have to get very cheap in order to get the cost of solar + storage down to the cost of late night wind.

            Right now the best claims I’ve seen for battery storage is about 14c/kWh. Add in the cost of making your own power from PV, say 10c/kWh and you can see that there’s a lot of cutting needed before storing your own solar to charge your EV at night is going to make financial sense.

            With TOU pricing and lots of wind coming likely to come on line utilities are probably going to have a lot of electricity to sell for less than 10c. That means that batteries would need to cost negative dollars.

          • CaptD

            We can only hope that Utilities lower the cost of their (wind) generated energy, as for me, I will not believe it until I see it.

            I see CA energy get more expensive not less expensive, unless the CPUC gets new commissioners that promote for rate fairness instead of Utility profitability, like the current commissioners are doing.

    • Anthony a

      Great question.

    • Typical EV’s cost between 2¢ and 4¢ per mile for electricity. That’s when you buy it from the electric company. If you put solar panels on your roof, you can pay much less; and if your solar PV system is large enough, you can drive for free – and pay nothing for your electricity, either.

      A Prius costs ~8¢ / mile for gasoline, plus ~2-3¢ more per mile for regular maintenance. A typical 23MPG car costs 15¢ per mile for gas alone.

  • My issue with this is this: what is a 500 mile fuel tank? Essentially, the claim is that the graphene battery has ~2X the capacity of the 265 mile battery as it is used in the Model S.

    But in a different car, this “500 mile battery” might be an 800 mile or a 1,000 mile battery. Same battery, different car, different range.

    • sault

      Well, he probably means 500 miles is the range goal for the car model that would use these batteries, meaning it’ll be whatever vehicle Tesla designs that they feel will be competitive and appealing in the market. Sure, they are also planning on selling batteries to other companies and they could probably put them in a smaller, more efficient car too.

      However, I never got the point of vehicles having ranges above 450 to 500 miles or so. For city driving, an EV with 500 miles range is carrying around a huge pile of batteries it doesn’t need, making it needlessly heavy (even at 2x power density of li ion batteries) and lowering its efficiency and slowing its acceleration. On the highway, 500 miles translates to between 5 or 6 hours of straight driving, even over the highest speed limit you’re going to see of 80 mph. While range margin is great and all since it eliminates range anxiety, a car that can be driven non-stop for longer than the average person can actually drive it is a bit excessive, especially where expensive batteries are concerned.

      The vast majority of the Continental U.S. is already accessible with Tesla’s 250-mile Model S battery pack and their network of superchargers, so 500 miles is probably more of a headline grabber than any real design goal. The only reason they might be looking at a 500-mile graphene battery is so the technology will be ready once their autonomous vehicles start to hit the market. Then, the ability to cover a whole time zone in what amounts to a personal, self-guided electric train car will be a huge plus.

      • It is better to carry around “too much” battery than it is to carry around an internal combustion engine, fuel tank and cooling system.

        • Bob_Wallace

          There’s no reason I know to expect ICE prices to drop while batteries are almost certain to get cheaper.

          “Too much battery” should be less and less of an issue with each passing year.

      • jeffhre

        I think you make great points there. Absolutely correct. And when batteries get to the point where someone can restore 300 miles of range in 45 seconds, even more so. But people who wear diapers and drive cross country without stopping, always seem to argue the point, for some reason 🙂

  • Scott Campbell

    Elon Musk is a genius so you never know what is up his sleeve. He is hustling on any new tech that it will make it possible to go to Mars for colonization. Energy savings with car and spacecraft are very important and must be developed.

    • Marion Meads

      what next, a battery powered spaceship to get us to Mars?

      • Offgridman

        Maybe so, did you even consider forty years ago that we would be carrying around battery powered computers in our pockets as is possible now?
        Why such a Negative Nelly M.M., still holding on to those short options on Tesla stocks?

      • Kyle Field

        Electricity powered compressed air driven rockets…or…oh wait…liquid hydrogen is the current rocket fuel of choice…which is extracted by electrolysis (as for FCEVs) then compressed….but anyways…yes, “battery powered” (aka liquid hydrogen “fuel cells”) travel to mars 🙂

        • Bob_Wallace

          “…which is extracted by electrolysis (as for FCEVs)”

          Calling “bull” on that. Most H2 comes from reformulated methane.

          Wiki –

          “Currently, the majority of hydrogen (∼95%) is produced from fossil fuels by steam reforming or partial oxidation of methane and coal gasification with only a small quantity by other routes such as biomass gasification or electrolysis of water.”

          • Kyle Field

            We’re talking graphene batteries large enough to power a car…with 500 mile range here…I think it’s safe to say that a proven technology “can” be scaled up via electrolysis/solar. We have discussed at length how unsustainable the current LPG ->Hydro FCEV model is elsewhere 🙂

          • Bob_Wallace

            “”Can” be” isn’t the same as “is extracted”.

            We could obtain H2 from electrolysis but we aren’t. NG gives affordable H2, electrolysis produced H2 would be too expensive.

      • Calamity_Jean

        Once it got to Mars it would use plenty of batteries. So, in a way, yeah, it would be “battery powered”.

  • JamesWimberley

    Tesla must have a “blue sky battery” person whose job is to follow a hundred bright ideas for superbatteries. The key piece of equipment is a large circular file.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I would say a team. And I bet they throw away no ideas, just let the most promising float to the top.

      And I’d bet that many of these bright idea labs/companies have been visited by the Tesla team.

      Were I a young engineer I can’t imagine a more exciting job than working for Tesla. It would be like working in Edison’s lab with a nice guy running the operation.

      • Marion Meads

        And getting paid barest minimum they can convinced you with, so that you have enough will power to get back to work the next business day while maintaining a cool status that you work for Tesla.

      • jeffhre

        Yeah, with no elephants getting electrified. Although there must be some solace in knowing one has been selected as the best of the best in a field deemed as world changing. Even if the company is as horrible as Marion Meads has indicated.

      • CaptD

        bob – I think it would be similar to working on the late 60’s Space effort when we were trying to put an American in Space and later on the Moon; everyone was jazzed to be part of the effort because we all knew that what we were doing was going to change the world, and we were right.

  • Shiggity

    Graphene tech would probably lead to a capacitor that pairs with a li ion battery. Not a full replacement.

    • Mint

      That’s my guess. Could be great for PHEV, as their batteries are too small to get really high power (>200kW) from. You need less than 1kWh of supercapacitors (paired with a good motor, of course) to get mad acceleration at road-legal speeds.

  • Captian Obvious

    This article is full of lies. There is no way a 500 mile battery can be fit in a car. FFS can you imagine the wheel size alone on a 500 mile car?

    • tanjali

      You don’t know nothing about battery tech then, and energy per volume research regarding graphene batteries or super capacitors. Graphene super capacitor can be made on only one atom thick layers and achieve better energy density per volume than lion batteries at least double fold.

      • Jules

        You obviously missed the humor in the OP’s comment

        • Bob_Wallace

          As did I.

          Until I saw your comment I was about to let loose my inner-Bob.

        • djr417

          he forgot to use the sarcasm font

          • eveee

            It’s a captain obvious font. 😉

        • S.Nkm

          It’s because it’s more an idiotic comment than a funny one.

          • TheSA-X

            agreed, it wasn’t exactly funny

        • Robert Pollock

          Referring mistakenly to a car that is 500 miles long? That’s sarcasm? No wonder it’s called a low form of humor. That was about as funny as a tax audit.

      • The Energy Nerd

        With advanced battery anodes (e.g. lithium-sulfur) and cathodes (e.g. lithium metal, silicon), one could realize a much higher capacity, 500-mile battery well within the current dimensions of the Model S battery pack. Won’t be graphene-based though; at ~300mAh/g, it would be limiting battery capacity of advanced anodes. Author might be thinking Musk’s earlier bullishness on carbon supercapacitors, but energy density isn’t nearly high enough to be practical for EVs.

        • Steve Grinwis


          He was joking about a 500 mile long car. Ie, a car as long as some european countries are wide.

          • The Energy Nerd

            That hissing sound you hear is my deflating ego. Missed that one by a mile.

          • Steve Grinwis

            One mile? Or 500? 😀

          • Doug Cutler

            You could have a 500 mile long car with a built-in moving sidewalk. That might work?

          • Hans

            My country is not even that long.

        • Robert Pollock

          Someone told me there are three distinctly different types of energy: Nuclear, Magnetic and Gravitational. I contend that one day, probably finding out more about ‘dark matter’, it will be obvious that energy is the same, it just takes different forms. They guy under the apple tree said that too.
          The kind of energy concentration we’re imagining might not come in a battery. What else is there? A small nuclear device, or nuclear fission? A dark matter battery to balance the conventional?

    • Woryonwon

      Hilarious One turn and you end up in Nevada.

      • jeffhre

        Visit the gigafactory site?

    • spec9

      Actually, they’ve already built 500+ mile EVs. They were impractical vehicles stuffed with batteries but the point here is that higher energy density will allow for a 500 mile range car.

      I think the more important critique is “Who needs a 500 mile range EV?” It is basically a huge waste of battery 98% of the time. Give me a cheaper EV!

      • Patrick Linsley

        The OP was being facetious and pretending to misinterpret the author as saying the battery was 500 mi large. Get it 😀

      • Gustavo Franco

        I agree a 500 mile car will be very impractical, my car is 10ft and barely fits on my garage, image the pain of driving a 500 mile car.

    • If the vehicle is more efficient, then it goes farther on a given battery pack. The Illuminati Motor Works ‘7’ goes 220+ miles on a 33kWh battery pack (actually it had 10% charge left). That is traveling at 60-70MPH on flat ground in low wind conditions. That is ~129Wh/mile.

      So, with the 85kWh Tesla battery, that is ~566 miles.

      Get the Wh/mile consumption of the car down, and it drives farther on less.

    • Teo

      500 miles is not that far away. The Tesla Roadster will have a 400 mile battery upgrade this year.

      Thanks to improvements in Lithium-ion batteries, just replacing the existing batteries with new ones will increase Roadster’s range from 211 miles to 400 miles. Here is an article from a few weeks ago:

      • jeffhre

        Maybe, if cars are tiny, have bonded aluminum chassis, and carbon fiber bodies, and the batteries are about half the fully loaded weight of the vehicle 🙂

        • Bob_Wallace

          No, this is a “We’ll remove the current 200 mile range battery pack in your (pre-S, Lotus bodied) Roadster and insert a 400 mile range pack in its place.

          I’d like to know the kWh per cu ft (or some foreign measurement of volume) for the original Roadster pack and the S pack. Is this simply taking current S capacity to the Roadster or is it a higher capacity battery that Tesla is introducing?

          • jeffhre

            Tesla roadsters have CF bodies, Lotus has never made a car with a carbon fiber body. The tiny roadster has a total vehicle weight that is only slightly more than double the weight of it’s battery pack.

            The bonded aluminum chassis was developed from that of the Lotus Elise. Though ultimately, Tesla was only able to use about 6% of the parts from the Elise, having to develop or adapt the other 94% for their Roadster. Oh well, live and learn!

            This proposal is to use the newest Panasonic batteries to be validated by Tesla for the Model S, and replacing the original lower energy density Panasonic cells in the Roadster battery with them.

          • jeffhre

            “The Panasonic cells purchased by Tesla are specifically designed for the automaker and feature a Tesla-patented vent system within the end cap.” Apologies, do not remember the energy densities.

    • Roger Pham

      Capt. Obvious, you missed the obvious…this article did not lie. I do not see any mention of a 500-mile-LONG-battery, it just says 500-mile battery, which is a short-hand of saying 500-mile-RANGE battery to all readers of Cleantechnica.
      That said, IMHO, solid-state battery ought to do it, 500-mile range in a Tesla Model S.

    • Sam Rai

      Never underestimate Musk and his spry team of engineers. Using hyperloop technology the prodigious length of the vehicle could quite easily float on a pocket of air inside a …let’s say…1,500 mile tube. Like a puck on a giant air-hockey table the car would be gently pushed by the owner…or ideally…a friend whilst the owner sits inside…ready to kick back and relax on his ensuing 1,000 mile jaunt in his whisper quiet super-stretch-mega-limo-EV. They’ll call it: the Model L ……for Long. In fact i think Xinhua News Agency reported the Model L is slated to arrive in 2021. Tesla, ofcourse, needs to first release the E, the X, followed closely by the Model U, and then the Model A….before they can focus their efforts on the sure to be impressive Model L.

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