How Tesla Made its Battery Breakthroughs in a Tiny Canadian Lab

According to a recent article by Reuters, Tesla made some of its biggest breakthroughs in battery development in a tiny Canadian lab by funding a group of scientists led by Jeff Dahn, a pioneer in lithium-ion battery development and a graduate of the University of British Columbia.


After conducting battery research for 3M and Medtronic, Dahn signed a research partnership with Tesla in 2015 that runs through mid-2021. Tesla hired Dahn’s students and graduates and built connections to a small battery testing facility in Halifax in 2015, that was spun out of Dahn’s lab at Dalhousie.

Tesla also set up its own battery research lab in Halifax that same year. A former PhD student of Dahn’s, Chris Burns, helped Tesla build its Halifax facility.

Tesla’s funding of Dahn’s work is public, and Dahn has talked about some of his group’s accomplishments at public and private forums, including a presentation in February at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Videos of that presentation and at least two others where Dahn discussed his work were posted on YouTube, but since have been removed.

Dahn’s team is now playing a key role in Tesla’s plans to introduce a new low-cost, long-life ‘million mile’ battery in its Model 3 sedan in China, which will bring the cost of electric vehicles in line with gasoline models.

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