Denis Phares, CEO of Dragonfly Energy, holds a battery at his workshop in Reno, Nev. Right now, Dragonfly, which pays some of the rent as a middleman for selling China-made batteries online, is aiming for big-money backers to fund research into making lithium-ion batteries faster, cheaper and easier.
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) – A tech blog claims Tesla Motors has broken ground at a construction site in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, and may have laid off construction workers yesterday. News 4 learns that is not the case.
The construction site is guarded, and is only identified by the name “Project Tiger.”
It is one of the largest projects moving dirt in the center, according to Lance Gillman, Director of the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center.
Due to a non-disclosure agreement, the contractors and brokers cannot confirm nor deny if the company behind the gates is Tesla Motors.
Gilman, says that workers were not laid off yesterday as some have claimed. The workers have been working day and night for the past few weeks.
Mark Twain at Tesla lab back in the day!
“They’ve reached the end of the first phase,” says Gilman. “And so I can tell you that there’s been a full mile long path built in about 3 and half weeks. And so the first phase of construction process is completed and there is a halt at this time.))
Gilman and two project managers tell News 4 they’ve been waiting on a week-by-week basis for the company behind “Project Tiger” to reveal their identity. Until then, it’s all speculation.
Nevada, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona are finalists for the $5 billion gigafactory. It’s estimated to create 6,500 jobs.
The owner, Elon Musk, has been quoted saying ground will be broken in at least two states before a final location is chosen.
A spokeswoman from Tesla Motors declined to comment.
ELECTRIC CAR NEWS
BREAKING / DEVELOPING NEWS!
RENO, NV (07/25/2014)–Last Friday I got tipped off that the Tesla battery gigafactory had broke ground east of Reno at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center. I went out there on Sunday and sure enough, a huge construction site was in full operation with over 50 tractors leveling a building pad.
I shot a lot of photos on Sunday, again on Tuesday and very early morning hours of Wednesday.
Two articles about the project were published. A detailed piece that I wrote is posted at Transport Evolved. Also Greentech Media wrote up a piece for their website as well.
Last night we received word that the suspected gigafactory site east of town was shutdown and all of the employees were laid off because the project was too far behind schedule.
Sadly, two sources, close to the project, confirmed that construction was way behind schedule.
I believe the site east of town is/was a gigafactory site that may now be closed. I’m going out there tomorrow to confirm. The site was dark early this morning, but that doesn’t mean a lot (see the articles).
What is really down right scary is the fact that Elon Musk said, “What we’re going to do is move forward with more than one state, at least two, all the way to breaking ground, just in case there’s last-minute issues. The No. 1 thing is we want to minimize the risk timing for the gigafactory to get up and running.” (Bloomberg.)
To add to the concern, there will be a Tesla earnings call on Thursday, July 31st. Clearly, they plan to announce the gigafactory site(s).
I hate to read it this way–and there are many other possibilities–but it looks like two gigafactory sites are/were under construction to see which would performed the best: and Reno lost.
Note: Watch channel 8 tonight, they sent a reporter out there today.
What do you think?
See you all at the picnic!
UPDATE: Ed Pearce, with KOLO TV, just called. He said the site is open, but there’s little activity going on and he saw some trucks leaving with large equipment loaded on trailers. 😦
Guest Post: Top-Secret Groundworks Outside Reno, NV Marks First Tesla Gigafactory Site by Bob Tregilus
RENO, NV–Every so often throughout the day, when Elon Musk’s attention wanders for a moment, he must giggle at the thought of how his company has mobilized thousands of legislators, bureaucrats, local officials, and a myriad of other stakeholders–across five states–all vying to win the “big prize”: a Tesla Motors’ battery Gigafactory.
There’s more >>>
DEVELOPING: Reno Locals Claim Workers Laid Off At Top-Secret Site Believed To Be Tesla Gigafactory Site by Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield
Yesterday, we brought you news that groundworks at a top-secret site allegedly being developed as Tesla’s first Gigafactory battery processing facility was under way in Reno, NV. After hiring what appears to be large numbers of workers to carry out ground work at the Taho-Reno Industrial Centre, work on the site has reportedly been running seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. What’s more, said Reno local Bob Tregilus, there was little doubt among people working there that the new project was part of a ‘big battery factory project’ and that the end client was none other than Tesla Motors. But overnight we’ve received reports from multiple sources in Reno claiming that the site has been either temporarily or indefinitely closed, and the workers laid off.
There’s more >>>
RENO, NEV. — Lithium-ion batteries are not exotic, complicated or big.
But if Tesla Motors locates a “gigafactory” here, the lipstick-sized batteries could change Reno’s whole universe.
An announcement isn’t expected for months about which among five states would ultimately land the electric car-maker’s battery factory, though Tesla is expected to start breaking ground on two or three spots this summer.
If northern Nevada ultimately wins the factory, the region will need a crash course in “li-ions,” (pronounced “lie-ions”) as they are known. Reno already has some experts.
Before Tesla was a gleam in Reno’s eye, Denis Phares was planning to make lithium-ion batteries here.
Phares formed Dragonfly Energy in 2012 and was joined soon after by partners Justin Ferranto and Sean Nichols. He’s a former USC instructor and current executive MBA student at University of Nevada, Reno. The partners have picked up several business-competition wins and will head to the Cleantech Open finals in October.
Right now, Dragonfly, which pays some of the rent as a middleman for selling China-made batteries online, is aiming for big-money backers to fund research into making lithium-ion batteries faster, cheaper and easier — and here.
“It’s the highest energy and power density combined of any energy-storage medium,” Phares said. Li-ions are also safer and longer-lasting than conventional batteries. That’s why Tesla uses them and wants more.
Dragonfly’s west Reno lab is strewn with battery parts, tools and tables. They’re developing streamlined methods to build their own lithium-ion batteries in Nevada — not specifically to power electric cars, but for electric power grid applications and as replacement batteries for lead-acid models currently used elsewhere.
Dragonfly has a patent pending for their more efficient battery-making system.
“The goal is to bring manufacturing back home,” Phares said.
Making a li-ion battery is easy. Essentially, anode and cathode foil strips are coated with lithium salt mixed with carbon and packed into a case. A reaction takes place, causing an electron to travel between anode and cathode, and voila: You’ve got power.
But there are challenges.
For example, getting lithium. Most of the metal is now mined in China, South America and Australia, said Russ Fields, director of UNR’s Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering.
It is mined underground, in open pits and from brines on salt flats, he said.
Potentially rich lithium sources have been identified in North America, though the only operating U.S. lithium mine is in Silver Peak, near Tonopah.
“It’s going to happen. The lithium is here,” Phares said. “We are not getting to it. But we will.”
Another challenge is the sheer number of battery cells needed for electric cars: 7,000 of the little blue tubes go into one Tesla Model S. That puts the “giga” in Tesla’s factory plans, which run to 10 million square feet.
Nearly all li-ion batteries, including those used in Tesla cars, are made in huge China plants. It’s too costly to produce them anywhere else.
“When you make things in high volume, you can get the cost down,” Phares said.
Far from being competition for Dragonfly’s efforts, a Tesla plant would draw even more energy-storage research and jobs to Northern Nevada, Phares said.
“There’s plenty of market out there,” he said.
His company is aiming for a different battery market: People replacing lead-acid batteries with li-ion models, and, eventually, producing viable energy-storage cells for the electric grid.
“Ultimately, if we’re going to get off of fossil fuels and start using intermittent sources like power and wind, there has to be an energy buffer that can power our houses when a cloud comes through or when the wind dies down,” Phares said. “There has to be a lot of energy storage to stabilize the grid for those intermittent resources.”
But if Elon Musk came calling on Phares and Dragonfly Energy?
“If he wanted to talk, we would talk.”