Is Elon Musk Working on a Nuclear-Powered Tesla Vehicle?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk loves to make promises and get us excited about new technologies that he's working on. Some people online are now speculating he’ll soon reveal nuclear-powered electric vehicles next.

Tesla Model S Plaid. Credit: Tesla

A number of YouTube channels like Future Unity and SpaceX Live have posted videos alleging that Tesla is working on incorporating batteries developed by California-based Nano Diamond Battery (NDB) into its vehicles. These batteries are particularly noteworthy because they're powered by radioactive waste that can supposedly keep a spaceship or a hospital in operation for a whopping 28,000 years without once needing to be recharged or replaced.


The company in 2021 said that it plans to start selling the battery to commercial partners within the next two years. This includes a consumer version that could power a smartphone or an electric vehicle for up to a decade.


The question is: Is Elon Musk actually working on a nuclear-powered Tesla vehicle?


Well, no one knows for sure yet. The two channels didn’t cite sources for where they got their claims. And their videos, which have since racked up tens of thousands of views, primarily focus on the promise of NDB’s battery powering different devices rather than Tesla involvement in its development. As of writing, no credible source has stated that Elon Musk is in fact planning to use the battery for his electric vehicles. So, for now, we’ll chalk this one up as pure speculation.


However, it’s worth noting that NDB is very much a legitimate startup with a potentially game-changing offer. The company’s system essentially involves the creation of a proprietary nano diamond treatment that extracts electric charges from the microscopic diamonds used in the battery. The team behind it touts that these batteries are not only safe for the environment, with zero carbon emissions, but they also provide their own charge for longer than the lifetime or use of any one device. This means you don’t ever have to worry about your device’s battery running out as it’ll charge itself.

Credit: NDB

Of course, with new technologies, one of the primary concerns is always the cost. NDB hasn’t shared anything yet regarding this, with it still likely in the testing phase of its offerings. When the company’s partners eventually weigh the cost, they’ll have to consider that these batteries are supposed to be extremely long-lasting. In contrast, the lithium-ion batteries which are commonplace in almost every electronic device manufactured today degrade in around five years.


Add to that how there are now supply woes with the standard components of the batteries in use today. Tesla in April disclosed that nearly half of the vehicles it produced in the first quarter of 2022 shipped with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries instead of nickel-and-cobalt based cells. The change was first announced by the automaker in October last year.


Tesla’s decision to change could influence other companies to favour LFP batteries as well, especially with Russia, a major producer of nickel, still in a war with Ukraine. More than a dozen companies are reportedly looking to set up factories for LFP batteries in both the U.S. and Europe over the next three years, according to Reuters. LFP batteries have long been popular in China, but it’s now finding its way into Western markets.


Currently, from what’s being reported, Elon Musk seems more occupied with ramping up the cost-efficiency and speed of Tesla’s batteries than finding new batteries entirely. Then again, we don’t know what he has in development, so there’s always the potential that we’ll see a nuclear-powered Tesla vehicle one day.

 
  • A number of YouTube channels have posted videos alleging that Tesla is working on incorporating batteries developed by California-based Nano Diamond Battery (NDB) into its vehicles.

  • These batteries are powered by radioactive waste that can supposedly keep a spaceship or a hospital in operation for a whopping 28,000 years without once needing to be recharged or replaced.

  • The two channels, however, didn’t cite sources for where they got their claims. And their videos primarily focus on the promise of NDB’s battery powering different devices rather than Tesla involvement in its development.

  • As of writing, no credible source has stated that Elon Musk is in fact planning to use the battery for his electric vehicles.

  • Tesla in April disclosed that nearly half of the vehicles it produced in the first quarter of 2022 shipped with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries instead of nickel-and-cobalt based cells.


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