Tesla Home Batteries -- The Powerwall

Posted 2 years ago

Self PortraitCody Helscel
Blog writer & Web developer

Tesla Powerwall, the next generation in home batteries, maximizes the usefulness of your solar panels. Elon Musk is the product architect of Tesla Motors and has unveiled the release of the Powerwall system earlier this year.

Imagine a world where homes and businesses powered by solar panels could store electricity during the day to be used at night, maybe even used as backup power in the case of a power outage.
Elon Musk said at a news conference earlier this year, “Our goal is to fundamentally change the way the world uses energy.”

“Although the exact technology involved in the battery, called Powerwall, is a closely guarded secret, it probably isn't based on revolutionary concepts,” said Jordi Cabana, a chemistry professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago who studies new battery materials.

Jordi told Live Science, "Just looking at the specs that they publicize, it doesn't look very different — in terms of the cost — to what they're putting in their cars."

The Powerall can store 10 kilowatt-hours of power. “A hair dryer takes about 1 kW to run, while a stove takes several kW to run, so the new system could power a household for several hours,” said Stephen Harris, a chemist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, who studies lithium battery technology.

Tesla Motors is also planning to unveil a battery-storage system for businesses. They are calling it the Powerpack. The price for that system has yet to be released. Tesla is already taking orders for its residential systems. However, the products won’t ship until late summer.

The Powerwall boxes are about 33 inches wide and 51 inches tall. They are designed to be easy to install and will connect to the internet so you can monitor its power usage.

Of course companies are secretive about their technology, though the technology is probably similar to that found in Tesla’s Model S car. Many scientists think the Model S uses a particular type of lithium-ion battery in which one layer of the battery is made of a blend of nickel, manganese and cobalt oxide (NMC).

“Lithium ions are interspersed throughout this layer, and when the battery is charged, an electrical current drives the lithium ions out of the cathode, into a fluid filled with electrically conducting ions, and into another layer, called the anode, which is made up of stacks of graphite. When the power stored in the NMC battery is used, it causes the lithium ions to drift back down into the cathode,” Paul Shearing, a chemical engineer at University College London previously told Live Science.

“Different battery makers may tinker with the geometry or the particular blend of ingredients, but most researchers think this basic chemistry underlies the Tesla Model S' battery pack,” Cabana said.

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