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Published on May 15th, 2016 | by James Ayre


Dyson Could Go Where Only 1 Company (Tesla) Has Gone Before, Professor Postulates

May 15th, 2016 by  

The UK-based company Dyson could follow in Tesla’s footsteps with regard to rapid growth in the electric vehicle sector, according to a professor of energy storage at Warwick University’s manufacturing group.

We’ve previously reported on the growing evidence Dyson is working on an electric vehicle (EV), and that the UK government is apparently partially funding the development.

Dyson logo

Now, the cynical among us may want to reference personal experiences that we’ve had with various Dyson-branded products here … perhaps as an argument against Dyson’s chances of producing a quality EV. The fact remains, though, that the company has access to considerable resources, possesses government support, and appears to now possess what is possibly game-changing solid-state battery technology.

Those factors could well lead to the development of a compelling EV. Or not. But it seems something worth keeping an eye on.

The company previously revealed that it was planning to invest £1 billion into new battery technology. And, of course, the company purchased the solid-state battery firm Sakti3 back in October for $90 million. Sir James Dyson has claimed that the firm had “developed a breakthrough in battery technology.”

Notably, Sakti3 possesses a patent that states: “The present invention provides a method and system for an all solid-state rechargeable battery and a vehicle propulsion system powered by the battery.”


The Guardian provides more:

“Dyson have some excellent product engineering and some excellent marketing skills, so could they follow the same path as Tesla? Well, yes, probably they could,” said Prof David Greenwood, who leads the energy storage work at Warwick University’s manufacturing group, which the UK’s £1 billion Advanced Propulsion Centre chose to lead its battery programme.

…Greenwood said the three key factors for electric car batteries are low cost, safety and a high “energy density” which gives a long range. But currently they are expensive, he said, and cannot drive as far as petrol or diesel vehicles on a single charge. Solid-state batteries could provide a tenfold increase in energy density — how much power they pack in — and are also safer. This is because existing batteries use flammable organic solvents as an electrolyte (through which the current flows), whereas a solid electrolyte does not pose a fire risk and does not need expensive safety features. The solid electrolyte also means the battery electrodes can be made of a much more energy dense material, such as metallic lithium.

…Dyson’s battery company, Sakti3, has not disclosed the energy density it has achieved but industry experts estimate it has already passed 300Wh/kg. Sakti3’s patent states: “No solid state batteries with ceramic electrolytes have come close to achieving (our) level of energy density.”

Of course energy density is only one factor — durability, reliability, and competitive cost are requirements for use in something like an EV as well.

Greenwood mused further on the possibility of Dyson succeeding: “It worked for Tesla. Could they then scale it to be in the mass market? Who knows. Tesla have yet to prove they can do that. The challenges of entering the automotive industry are absolutely not to be underestimated. But at least with an electric vehicle the barriers to entry are a bit lower than for an internal combustion engine vehicle (because) the latter have some horrendously complex legislation to meet around emissions, for instance, which are simply not a problem for an electric vehicle as they do not have noxious emissions.”

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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Carl Raymond S

    Who remembers the day that science teacher pulled a tiny piece of Lithium metal from a jar of mineral oil, sliced a bit off, and it spontaneously ignited with a white hot flame?

  • Foxy

    From what I’ve heard from reliable sources, GM was happy to get rid of Sakti3. There is a lot of BS going on with solid state right now. Plenty of demonstration needs to be done.

  • JamesWimberley

    Dyson’s problem is to solve the design issues, which he is good at. For moving from a good prototype or limited-run niche car into mass production, he would have other options than building his own large car and battery plants. Most of the world’s legacy carmakers are desperately playing catchup behind Tesla, and one of them could buy Dyson out.

  • Eric Lukac-Kuruc

    The patent mentions an energy density for the battery pack (not the cell) of 500W/Kg. How does that compare to the currently commercialized best ones?

    • Jenny Sommer

      Tesla is around 150W/kg, Kreisel 170W/kg complete with BMS and electronics.

      • Eric Lukac-Kuruc

        Thank you for the reply.

        So the Sakti3/Dyson battery pack density improvement is impressive.

        It remains to see at what cost they achieve that density.
        Of course a patent doesn’t tell a word about pricing 🙂

      • eveee

        No thats false. I already showed you that, Jenny. Don’t repeat falsehoods.

        • Jenny Sommer

          You still compare the 2 year old E-Golf pack.
          Kreisel has improved density. The Panamera is under 4sec unoptimised and can sustain over 300kmh without overheating.
          You just don’t know how much C they can deliver. Amperage is not the limiting factor when drawing power. It’s the thermal management which Kreisel is supposably superior. Their quick charge performance could be a further hint.
          It’s probably better to stay on the safe side and not abuse the battery.
          But you could do us all a favour and ask Kreisel why they say their battery is superior.

          • eveee

            No Jenny. I corrected that. You keep talking about data that you claim shows its better, but you don’t have any sources to prove it. I am sure Tesla has newer batteries in the works, too.

            If you don’t have the data, stop the persiflage. Otherwise, show the links.
            The Panamera is slow compared to the Model S. Obviously, Tesla is doing something right. Your claims of higher C for Kreisel are unproved without links. The C rate of Tesla batteries is 6 in burst mode. I proved it from data.

            I don’t care what caused the C rate. C rate limits in discharge is not the same as C rate in charge.

            The issue is your unfounded claims, not the details of how C rate works or how fast a car goes.

            Provide data and links please, not claims.

          • Jenny Sommer

            I got batteries with a 50C rating.
            Higher spikes won’t damage the battery.
            There is no data from Tesla available that shows the detailed performance of their pack. We do know that they limit the cars speed well below 300kmh which indicates a cooling problem.
            We’d need some detailed curves to settle this. Until then I take it that Kreisels claim is right. Tesla would probably challenge it if they had the better pack.

          • eveee

            Jenny, jenny. We do know a few things about the Tesla pack. We know the output was upgraded to 1500A from 1300A.

            “By now, we all know that the secret to Tesla’s new Ludicrous Mode was a so-called smart fuse that could handle up to 1,500 amps, instead of the 1,300 amps supported by the current generation P85D. That, and an upgrade to the material used on the main battery pack contact allowed Tesla to safely increase the max battery pack output.”

            Read more at http://www.teslarati.com/90-kwh-battery-teslas-may-already-ludicrous-mode/#yE7QkobRB5bdUUM0.99

            We know the voltage. About 400V. And we know the motor horsepower. 691. So no. We don’t know nothing about the Tesla batter pack. From that information and the size of the pack being 85kwhr, we can deduce the C is much greater than one.

            But really Jenny. I showed you all that and have provided references. Now when are you going to provide references of your claims?

            “I got batteries with a 50C rating.”

            This isn’t even a proper scientific statement that can be verified or refuted.
            “I got” means little. A123 has made high C rate batteries long ago. There are others as well. Tells me little.

            Limiting their speed to less than 300km/h doesn’t mean they have a cooling problem. They may have one, but thats no way to infer it. We do know they can’t go on a racetrack and run for long without having to reduce power for temperature.

            This isn’t particularly relevant for a consumer automobile.

            You have not shown Kreisels claim whatever that is. Why don’t you provide a link to whatever claim you mean. Do this. Copy the claim in quotes and show the link. Then we can all read and evaluate.

          • Jenny Sommer


            244Wh/kg and the claim that it is the densest Pack on the market.
            Prove them wrong.

            If the car can’t handle a race track it shows that the battery cooling System is inferior.
            Mercedes and Audi both perform better on the racetrack.

            It is great that Tesla is building a car you can buy but others could just do the same.

            I own batteries rated at 50C.

          • eveee

            4.1kg/kwh is equivalent to 244Wh/kg.

            Now lets take the Tesla pack. 1200 lbs. 90kwhr.Thats 545 kg.

            90kwhr/545 kg = 165 Whr/kg

            Seems a bit lower.

            So what is in the Kreisel module?

            Is it really from Johammer with the same specs?

            And does that include the coolant and all the rest in the weight figure?

            The picture of Johammer states the same numbers, but the picture of its pack is barely more than batteries.

            Here is the Kreisel specs. Unfortunately, its not clear what a module represents. Going across the table, the smallest module has the worst kw/kg specs and the largest has the best.


            Are we comparing apples to apples?

            Not bad, but the claim of highest power density pack has been made before by others. Konigsegg makes similar claims with similar numbers.

            A similar module from A123


    • Julian Cox

      Was that W (power density) or Wh/Kg (energy density). If it’s W and not Wh then that is not very impressive.

      The Tesla battery pack power density at nominally 500Hp (373,000 W) weighs 544Kg = 685W/Kg.

      I doubt that the Sakti3 patent description of battery pack weight includes the weight of metal crash structures? Tesla’s does.

      The Solid State battery harks back to a debate about battery safety affecting early cell phones and laptops using lithium rechargeable batteries. The Solid State battery was held out as a holy grail objective – for the reasons stated by Sakti3 and Dyson. The elimination of organic liquid electrolytes that are the first thing to catch fire in the event of a thermal runaway.

      In a vehicle, gasoline engines have thermal runaways every single time the spark plug ignites a fuel air mixture. Handling isolated fires aboard vehicles continually is not a problem that must be avoided at all costs. Just cool exhaust products and vent them through an exhaust duct. A far more simple exhaust duct is practical safety system for an EV that should ideally never have a thermal runaway on board – so no giant cooling radiators etc, if it happens then its a one-off before an overhaul.

      If that is accepted, then the need to optimise for a Solid State Lithium cell goes away if something lighter and cheaper can do the job better. It is in fact irrelevant to make cells without organic electrolytes for vehicles. You don’t save anything on ancillary safety systems that need to be there anyway – and anyone that designs a vehicle without this in mind is being irresponsible. A solid state cell will smoulder and ignite just fine regardless of a lack of organic electrolyte if it is ruptured. Both halves of an energetic redox reaction are there – mix them and it will burn or explode like any other. Entirely possible that this is the same fools errand as LiFePO4 chemistries. A “safe” cell that cuts down on the need to make safe packs. This is what killed the Fiskar Karma and partly what killed the BYD E6. They caught fire.

      Solid state Lithium is tricky. Liquid electrolytes do a great job of facilitating Ionic Conductivity (because they are liquids). Never say never but Dyson does not seem to be on the right track from a technology standpoint and the charming lady from Sakti3 is a bit shy about discussing energy density – at least time I saw here interviewed.

      If there is some news I would be curious.


      • eveee

        I agree. There is a difference comparing production batteries to theoretical values without pack enclosures, BMS, etc.

        Here is from our discussion 7 days ago comparing Telsa to another manufacturer, Kreisel.

        “That was great in the old days six months ago. Tesla already did 3.3 and 2.8 seconds. That’s an eternity in super car acceleration. Not close in a race. Sorry, Porsche is slow by comparison.r

        My bad on the pack. I found a clearer reference

        “.vgKreisel has also swapped out VW’s 24.2 kWh battery pack in an e-Golf and replaced it with a 55.7 kWh Kreisel pack, with the weight (330 kg) remaining identical. The range improves from 190 to more than 430 km—i.e., from 120 to 267 miles.”

        So 55.7/330=0.1687kwhr/kg Kreisel

        90/540=0.1666 kwhr/kg

        Virtually identical

        I was wrong. Tesla has the better battery for power, but energy density is the same. Pretty good for Kreisel, but it’s not superior, just about equal.”

        For some reason, Tesla is able to get 6C bursts out of NCA, which is reputedly a 1C battery. They have some improvements like silicon in the electrodes.

        Kreisel is not a pure single chemistry battery, but a blend. Probably to increase range.

        The Tesla pack will put out 1500A at about 400V (some sag), so in the neighborhood of 600kw.

        The motors are good for 691 hp. Those are good ballpark figures, then. An electric motor is good for peaks higher than its steady state rate, so the motors could conceivably suck more juice. But things have a way of melting. 🙂

        And FYI, not for automotive, but Alevo has an inorganic, non flammable, non toxic electrolyte. So doing it solid state is not the only way to go.

  • omar

    I believe in britsh people squils but since 2013 i hear from Sakti3 about breakthrough in solide state battery but i didnt yet see any battery prototyp, no motor prototyp, and no car prototyp or concept . i tend now to say Sakti3-Dyson is a lie. Tesla release prototyps before car specs, this can be called serious. how come Tesla and LG cant know about a tech which is 10 tames better than what they are doing!

    • i think it is a far-off bet that involves more things going right than wrong. don’t expect it’s a “lie,” but certainly not guaranteed to succeed. high-risk, high-reward kind of thing.

      • omar

        I am just frustrated actually we should thank them to rid these risks, we will see.

        • yes, it is a long wait to see if a tech/company like this ends up being useful, and they almost never do….

    • Mike Shurtleff

      Well, Dyson did pay $90 million, so they think Sakti3 has something worth while. …too early for the rest of us to tell whether this will bear fruit or be a flop. …such is the nature of startups and new tech ventures.
      Not all startup failures are frauds, many are gallant attempts. Sakti3-Dyson seem like a serious effort to me. Maybe they will knock it out of the park. We’ll have to stay tuned and wait to see.
      My understanding is they are now trying to scale manufacturing. Hence the need to a bigger partner. Many tech startups fail when they try to scale up for full production. Some succeed. We’ll see.

  • CMCNestT .

    If Sakti3 had game changing BEV technology it would be worth far more than $90M and Sakti3 early investor General Motors would have outbid Dyson for the company.

    Dyson took out a $90M flyer on a potential game changing EV battery. But same battery will likely find at least some success in the smart phone and small appliance business. EVs is probably a long shot.

    • Brunel

      Dyson just spent $70m to develop a hair dryer. The dryers will be sold for £300 each!

      So I suppose Dyson did not buy Sakti3 to make cheap batteries. But to make cutting edge batteries.

      No Li-ion battery will be as cheap as a Tesla one.

      But yes, some gadgets do not care if a batrery is $1000/kWh if the energy density is high.

      • Jenny Sommer

        Unless someone produces a cheaper LiIo cell than Panasonic.

        SSB also have the potential to be cheaper. VW and Samsung are also working on them. Bosch says their SSC will be on the market by 2020.

        • Brunel

          2020 is too far away for Dyson!

          Bosch ones may need to be kept at 70C I think.

        • eveee

          Its not cost per cell. Its cost/kwhr and other figures of merit. Charging rates, temperature range, safety, etc.

  • phineasjw

    Why would Dyson care about building EVs, with all the startup costs, overhead, competition, and logistics?

    If they truly have a better battery technology, they should be shopping it to everyone in the EV industry, and prepping to build their own Gigafactory. We already know that 100-200 Gigafactories will eventually be needed to supply the world — and there’s currently only ONE under construction…

    • Brunel

      Yes and I hate when only EVs are mentioned.

      Heaps of products could use SSL: Power tools, laptops, drones, cameras.

      • The Sakti3 founder planned for smaller uses such as these to be the first market (easiest to penetrate and scale up in?), and later EVs.

        Here’s the article with the video in it: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/12/21/ev-battery-costs-battery-experts-video/

        • Brunel

          Well yeah, the selling point for SSL in drones is the high energy density.

          And the selling point for SSL in other devices is that the battery will last a lifetime.

      • Omega Centauri

        Lots of outdoor power tools/lawn equipment is still ICE powered. Very polluting and noisey. Should be ripe for takeover, many tools already have LiIon versions in the stores/

        • Brunel

          We also need to force the cordless drill makers to settle on 1 common battery size. Like phones have agreed to use MicroSD cards.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I doubt that will happen. Cordless tool manufacturers are likely to stick with unique batteries as a way to lock them into their brand. As happens with camera lens mounts.

            I’m in the process of dumping my Black & Decker cordless string trimmer (slow charger and low amp batteries) for a Makita. I can use the same batteries and charger that I use for my drill and sawzall.

          • Brunel

            Hence the need to tax them into submission.

            Sony tried to lock consumers into their MemoryStick thing.

            The others agreed on SD Card.

            Now Sony video cameras accept both MS and SD cards.

        • Carl Raymond S

          We all hate it when the ICE leaf blowers and the like fire up on Sunday morning, yet people buy the cheapest model available. Surely a noise tax is in order to make the Lithium Ion models the best bargain. Peace.

          • eveee

            Says something when the operators need to wear ear protection, doesn’t it. Should be a law that any tool needing ear protection can’t be operated in residential areas without a permit and a time of day limit. Neighbors should be posted, too.

          • Carl Raymond S

            Did a count at the hardware store on the weekend. 3 Lithium battery mower models and 11 ICE models. Prices about 20% higher for the electrics – an amount you would easily save in fuel (and fuel used to fetch the fuel) over the life of the mower.
            I’ll let you know if the ratio starts to swing. It might be as simple as people are still buying what they know.

      • Jens Stubbe

        Just Tesla expect to build more batteries in one year than the world has done since Volta, so that is why cars are by far the most important volume market. Your heaps of product only require a tiny percentage of the current already ordered car battery market. And will likely continue to diminish in importance.

    • Bob_Wallace

      LG Chem and BYD are ramping up about as fast as Panasonic/Tesla. There are other battery companies smelling the profits as well.

      But you’re right. If you’ve got the killer battery then license it out to as many manufacturers as you can. No one knows when the next killer battery might emerge and kill yours off. Grab the bucks while you can, don’t get into the low margin car business and limit your battery sales.

      • eveee

        Its no longer the battery chemistry that matters. Its the factory and the battery demand. No matter how good the chemistry, with no deal, no factory, and no EV demand…..

  • Dragon

    Dyson has some great ideas that blow away the competition but they like combining those ideas with idiotic oversights and frustrating design features. I suspect they do so for the same reason as Apple – so they can sell you an improved version in a few years. You can’t pull that crap with expensive cars.

    • Rob Zwald

      Oh, yes, they can. Car manufacturers have been doing that for generations.

  • Bristolboy

    Dyson is known mostly for the vacuum cleaners, but as a company (led by James Dyson) they are obsessed with research into technology and like Apple they have a flair for design and marketing. They are currently vastly investing in R&D – they have about 2000 highly qualified staff (mostly engineers) working out of their headquarters in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.

    They have also moved away from vacuum cleaners successfully in the past (eg hand-driers and fans) and also unsuccessfully (the washing machine), but the step up to the car is a completely different kettle of fish.

    Also as well as potentially good batteries, Dyson have man patents relating to electric motor technology.

    • Brunel

      Dyson electric motors are meant to be very good and innovative.

    • globi

      Electric cars don’t lack efficient or effective electric motors.

  • globi

    Dyson have some excellent product engineering and some excellent marketing skills

    I partially disagree – Dyson only has some excellent marketing skills.

    • TatuSaloranta

      Have you actually checked into R&D, products they have? For consumer appliances their design and technology has been reasonably innovative, much more so than other players in the field, except for some of high-end competitors (for appliances Miele f.ex).

      • globi

        I have one of their products and it sucks.

        • Jenny Sommer

          I’d hope so.

        • TatuSaloranta

          lol. You’re an expert then!

          • globi

            It’s not because this vacuum cleaner product is faulty, but because it is actually badly designed. So, it applies to all their vacuum cleaners not just mine.

            Their fan is actually worse, particularly from an efficiency standpoint. (In this case it’s more obvious.)

  • Mike Shurtleff

    10x is hyperbole at this point. 3x or maybe 4x energy density is more likely. I would love to be proven wrong on that.

    • Sakti3 made some big claims regarding its potential. It was a very exciting startup to watch, and the founder is a brilliant lady who is an excellent conversationalist on these topics. But she definitely didn’t say the batteries were ready yet. They needed at least a handful more years of development to reach their potential, and who knows if they really can. We’ll see. Still one of the ones I’m most eagerly watching, but it is very hard to go from the lab to production without losing a lot of steam … or electrons.

      • Mike Shurtleff

        Yes, I am still eagerly watching. Just say’in 10x without more verifiable information comes across as far flung speculation to me.
        SSL with 300Wh/kg with very low cost automated manufacturing could be a game changer on its own. Why exaggerate beyond?

        • Yeah, good point.

          And 2 thumbs up to your comment above as well. 😀

        • Omega Centauri

          Exaggerate -you mean like EE-STOR?

        • J_JamesM

          But there are so many other things to consider—power consistency over discharge, memory effect, charge cycles, amperage, voltage, chemical stability…

      • Jenny Sommer

        For all we know any of the solid state companies could have a battery ready. Do you know the chemistry of the 2018 Audi SUV? Could also be something from QuantumScape.
        Bosch has stated 2020 for their SSB.

  • Brunel

    Dyson does not need to make EVs.

    Dyson can make SSL cells for other firms who make GoPro cameras, cordless power tools, electric toothbrushes,

    • Mike Shurtleff

      Sure, but apparently they are developing an EV.

      • Brunel

        Impossible. You need a car factory and a gigafactory to make enough cells.

        Unless they are making an elite car like an electric Nissan GTR.

        In which case, Dyson may as well sell cells to Nissan.

        • Rob Zwald

          Why would they need a car factory to make cells?

        • Mike Shurtleff

          An EV would certainly be a departure from Sakti3’s earlier game plan. Then again life is short and it could be fun, revolutionary! Who knows.
          prototype -> car factory -> gigafactory
          Isn’t that how it works?

          “impossible” is funny.
          watching tv on a wrist phone was impossible, landing geosync rockets on barges at sea was impossible, model 3 was impossible, powerwall price was impossible, ….SSL is impossible? …Sakti3 SSL in an EV is impossible?
          Who knows? Stand by for another impossible?

          • Brunel

            I never said SSL in an EV is impossible.

            I said Dyson making cars is impossible.

            Dyson could supply cells to Nissan, BMW, GoPro, Braun.

          • Mike Shurtleff


          • eveee

            Perhaps he meant it was unlikely for Dyson to be able to build a gigs factory or large scale auto assembly plant.

        • TatuSaloranta

          No, _development_ does not need a factory. _Production_ would need one. You don’t build production capacity before development (and supporting things regarding market research etc) is far enough.

          • Brunel

            Who else has the guts to build a colossal Gigafactory but Musk.

            And you need a Gigafactory to supply 500,000 cars per year.

          • Jenny Sommer

            Not really. License the cell and battery production out to 100 small factories and let each do 50k packs a year. You can still negotiate huge supply contracts for raw materials.

          • Brunel

            Musk and JB Straubel built a gigafactory to cut costs. If production costs are lower in smaller factories than a big one, then maybe they ought to make iPhones in 10 factories around the world.

          • Jenny Sommer

            They do. Not IPhones, but they don’t account for many phones anyways.
            Distributed manufacturing works for other products, why not for batteries?
            It’s easier to start and scale than one huge factory you bet everything on.

          • Brunel

            What products are made in 10 factories instead of 2.

          • TatuSaloranta

            Point still stands that it’s quite possible to R&D things; production will indeed be quite different thing.

    • Jenny Sommer

      Electric toothbrushes use pathetically cheap batteries. They are not built to last.

      • Brunel

        Have you purchased one. If so, what brand.

        I have had one since 2010 and it still works.

        • eveee

          How many miles ? Sorry for my warped humor. Things got a bit too serious. If you will excuse that digression may I add that you are correct. Battery and auto manufacturing plants are massive, capital consuming undertakings that take years. When one company manages to make batteries good enough to make competitive EVs, the need for battery breakthroughs exists, but is relatively diminished compared to when we used lead acid for example,

  • J.H.

    I hope they can pull it off and I think the majority, here, would agree. Another brake through in battery technology reveals a commitment that will not stop here. By the way it sounds it may be cheaper than the current lithium tech.

    • Joseph Dubeau

      “it sounds it may be cheaper than the current lithium tech” – yes it is.

      • Shane 2

        Best of luck to Dyson. See how it goes in specialist products. If it works well then partner with car companies. I don’t want the world to have to wait for Dyson to develop the car manufacturing skills and infrastructure to benefit from the technology in vehicles..

        • Joseph Dubeau

          The current battery tech will bring prices down.
          How I see it, solid state batteries will be the next generation.
          They will have to do better than $100/kWh.

    • S Herb

      Judging from my recent internet reading, ‘brake’ and ‘break’ are now used interchangeably.

      • JonathanMaddox


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