Business & Finance

How a small Nova Scotia lab is providing Tesla with battery research

Dalhousie University experts in Halifax, Nova Scotia are providing Tesla with top battery research and development.

Sam Edwards High Level, Alberta
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Elon Musk, the Chief Executive at Tesla has made contact with battery experts in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The experts are at Dalhousie University and led by lithium-ion battery development pioneer, Jeff Dahn. Dahn has led  a group of scientists for 24 years and Tesla decided to fund the group in 2016, according to Reuters.

Dahn’s team is now playing a big part in developing a battery for Tesla’s new Model 3 Sedan in China next year. The battery they are working on is long-lasting at a low-cost. The company is trying to bring the cost of electric vehicles closer to the gasoline vehicle range.

In the late 1970s, Dahn began his work with lithium batteries after graduating from the University of British Columbia. In 2017, Dahn noted that his Dalhousie team had developed chemistries that were being used in roughly one in 10 electric vehicles. Dahn has done research for Medtronic PLC (MDT.N) and 3M Co (MMM.N) in the past and signed a research partnership with Tesla in 2015 that runs to 2021.

In 2012, Tesla started to hire graduates and students that have worked under Dahn. The company then started connecting with a Halifax battery testing facility called Novonix that was tied to Dahn’s lab at the university, in 2015. Tesla built its own research lab in Halifax in the same year and Chris Burns, who is the Novonix CEO and was one of Dahn’s PhD students—helped Tesla to build the Halifax research facility.

A large amount of battery research at Dalhousie has been funded by Tesla since 2016. The company has also filed six or more patent applications that Dahn and his team are listed as co-inventors on since 2017.

Now, there are at least eight people working at Tesla who are former researchers or students of Dahn’s.

Dahn himself is listed on over 40 battery patents as a co-inventor and along with his team, they are some of the worlds most active battery researchers. The team has published over 600 academic papers.

Tesla has also ended its standoff with officials in California’s Alameda County after they agreed to let the Fremont, California factory reopen.

Alameda county said the company can reopen as long as it maintains “minimum business operations” and follows safety recommendations.

The company may be reopening as early as next week, though Musk says that it has already begun some production.

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