Elon Musk is a dizzyingly accomplished badass as well as a quirky workaholic, which makes him kind of like Nikola Tesla minus the full-contact pigeon fancying. And hey, that’s exactly what he named his electric automobile company, Tesla Motors. Musk, who has built Tesla’s entire business on the advanced, computer-controlled battery technology his engineers developed for the Tesla Roadster sports car, thinks that batteries are kaput in the long run.
In their place, he’s betting on a technology called ultracapacitors. Capacitors are totally different than batteries — rather than being buckets of wet chemicals, they’re solid state devices already ubiquitous in today’s consumer electronics. Ultracapacitors are just giant, super energy-dense versions of their smaller antecedents, and they should be able to charge and discharge much more quickly than today’s batteries, which will be critical for topping off electric cars in a manner that in any way resembles our current habit of filling up at the gas station.
Energy analysts have often commented on the fact that even the best batteries have really awful energy density when compared to liquid fuels like gasoline, which means that if we’re going to even approximate the range and power of our current gas-fueled fleet, we’re going to need a breakthrough. Musk thinks ultracapacitors are just the ticket.
“Tesla CEO: I’d Bet On Capacitors Over Batteries,” Earth2Tech