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Tesla battery researcher Jeff Dahn talks $100 kWh cells, removing cobalt, and more

Jeff Dahn, the head of Tesla’s battery research group in Halifax, talks about achieving $100 kWh cost of battery cells, removing cobalt from cells, and more in a rare new interview.

Dahn is considered a pioneer in Li-ion battery cells. He has been working on the Li-ion batteries pretty much since they were invented. He is credited for helping increase the life cycle of the cells, which helped their commercialization.

His work now focuses mainly on a potential increase in energy density and durability, while also decreasing the cost.

In 2016, Dahn transitioned his research group from their 20-year research agreement with 3M to a new association with Tesla under the newly formed ‘NSERC/Tesla Canada Industrial Research’.

Through the agreement, Tesla invested in a new research lab close to Dahn’s group near Halifax, Nova Scotia.

We haven’t heard much from Dahn over the past few years, but we previously reported that his group has been working on additives to the electrolyte in order to increase the performance of Li-ion battery cell chemistry.

The group started filing patents on battery technology for Tesla earlier this year.

More recently, we reported on a new patent that could help prevent cell failure in Tesla vehicles.

In an interview with YouTuber Sean Mitchell, the scientist talks about his latest research and answers a few interesting questions about batteries:

Electrek’s Take

Interestingly, Tesla wasn’t mentioned at all during the interview and I wouldn’t be surprised if Tesla was off the table since Dahn has let things out of the bag about Tesla before.

A few things of note in the interview include the mention of removing cobalt from battery cells, which is one of Tesla’s goals.

Dahn is also on board with the latest projections that battery cell cost should go below $100 kWh within the next few years.

The milestone has been described as the tipping point that makes battery-electric vehicles cost-competitive with gasoline cars on a massive scale.

I also found it interesting how Dahn has a very similar approach to Elon Musk when it comes to evaluating new battery technologies. He said:

“Until you put it in a prototype and you demonstrate that it’s a manufacturable item and economically viable, you can’t jump and down too much”
That’s something we hear Elon say a lot every time new battery technologies are announced.

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