Thomas Edison Would Applaud Tesla’s Gigafactory

Batteries and their high costs are the limiting factor for electric vehicle commercialization, with most vehicle companies content to let battery manufacturers set the pace. Not so with Tesla as it forges ahead to build its own huge lithium-ion battery plant, now in its first commercial phase in southern Nevada.

Gigafactory now about 30% complete, located in southern Nevada, will generate 4,000+ jobs.

Gigafactory now about 30% complete, located in southern Nevada, will generate 4,000+ jobs.

Tesla is also building battery packs to power homes and back up the electric grid. In September, the company announced a deal to supply a record 20 megawatts/80 megawatt-hours of energy storage to Southern California Edison as part of a wider effort to prevent blackouts, replacing fossil-fuel electricity generation with lithium-ion batteries.

The storage products fit into Musk’s long-term vision of transforming Tesla from an electric car company to a clean-energy company. That’s the same motivation behind his recently concluded deal to acquire SolarCity Corp., the largest U.S. rooftop solar installer.

Tesla home battery packs for use with their solar energy venture with SolarCity Corp.

Tesla home battery packs for use with their solar energy venture with SolarCity Corp.

In cooperation with Panasonic and other strategic partners, the Gigafactory will produce batteries for significantly less cost using economies of scale, innovative manufacturing, reduction of waste, and the simple optimization of locating most manufacturing process under one roof. They expect to drive down the per kilowatt hour (kWh) cost of battery packs by more than 30 percent. Check it out. The Gigafactory will also be powered by renewable energy sources, with the goal of achieving net zero energy.

Thomas Edison would applaud this Gigafactory effort by Tesla, as Edison pioneered the large scale, centralized production of nickel-iron storage batteries. Following a ten-year design and testing effort, the battery was put into production around

Here amid the sprawling 25-acre Edison West Orange complex (ca.1928), shown in blue outline, is the block-long, L-shaped battery production facility. Part of the building still stands today.

Here amid the sprawling 25-acre Edison West Orange complex (ca.1928), shown in blue outline, is the block-long, L-shaped battery production facility. Part of the building still stands today.

1910. Designed originally for use in electric vehicles, the Edison batteries went on to become used by various branches of the military, the railroads, the mining industry and the merchant marine – making batteries his most widely sold and perhaps most profitable product. Edison batteries were made and sold into the 1970s, long after Edison’s death. Edison was also a big solar proponent way back in 1910 as well.

To this big effort by Tesla, Edison would say, “Elon Musk … it’s your turn now. Show us what you got!”

Thomas Edison said, “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

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Thomas Edison Smiles Down on His Son Charles

Charles Edison was the son of Thomas Edison, the famous inventor and entrepreneur. In 1948 Charles established the Charles Edison Fund, created to maintain the legacy of his father, Thomas Edison, and to meet his own philanthropic goals, including being a patron of the arts in New York City. The fund promotes education, specifically careers in science and technology, medical research and historic preservation. Check out our newly renovated website at CharlesEdisonFund.org.

A young man at work in his father’s labs.

A young man at work in his father’s labs.

The Fund also engages in licensing the Edison Intellectual property, including the name, image, quotes and artifacts of Thomas Edison ( “Edison IP”). The extra revenues generated support educational programs run by its sister foundation, Edison Innovation Foundation.

President Roosevelt appointed Charles Edison as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1937, then as Secretary in early 1940. During his time in the Navy, he advocated construction of the large Iowa-class battleships, PT boats and a streamlined system for implementing shipbuilding contracts–of great help during WWII.

Charles-Secretary of the Navy / Gov. of New Jersey

Charles-Secretary of the Navy / Gov. of New Jersey

America’s greatest battleship, an Iowa-class beauty, the USS New Jersey, was launched on December 7, 1942 by Charles’s wife, Carolyn, and in honor of Charles’ work in the Navy. Resigning from the Navy, Charles campaigned and won election as Governor of New Jersey, serving from 1941-1944.
Charles was president of his father’s company Thomas A. Edison, Inc. in 1927, and ran it until it was sold in 1957, when it merged with the McGraw Electric Company to form the McGraw-Edison Electric Company.

Thomas Edison on Time MagazineThomas Edison said, “I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.”

Time® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

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Consider Making a Donation to the Edison Innovation Foundation

We teach how Thomas Edison, thru his work and project teams, exemplified STEM. We support STEM education programs for teachers and students like:

  • Holding special education programs and tours for teachers at the legendary Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange, NJ.
  • Conducting our annual Thomas Edison Invention Challenge where student teams from across the nation compete with their designs in various technology areas.

2nd Place “Team Tesla” New Providence HS Invented an emergency shelter for disaster relief

Car Exhaust Charger Team

High School

  • Developing a new “pitch contest” where student teams develop a new product and compete for the funding of their products in front of a panel of business and industry judges.

Help us to continue to influence the thousands of teachers and students we reach through our programs! Donate Now.

Thomas Edison on Time MagazineThomas Edison said, “If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves …”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

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