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Tesla wants to reinvent comfort with liquid heating and cooling

In the world of manufacturing electric cars, thinking outside the box is mandatory. Electric-powered options normally supplied by an onboard power source need to be redesigned — after all, the more power you can devote to the drive system the further the range. To this end, the technology geniuses at Tesla are tackling a weird but crucial issue: heating and cooling seats.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office published an application on September 26 for a liquid-filled heated and cooled seat. The patent paperwork showed a liquid heating and cooling system utilizing dual bladders just under the seat fabric with a pump to circulate the liquid. A heating element and a fluid pump will handle the temperature changes far more efficiently than the standard all-electric heating currently in use.

The patent does not make entirely clear how the cooling effect will be attained, nor does it mention a specific model, such as the Tesla Model S or Model 3. Repeatedly, the term “temperature control unit” is used to explain the same principle as the heating. However the wizards of Palo Alto plan to make it work, they promise a system that is low cost, low noise, and power-efficient. The issue of noise in an electric car might not seem pressing, but it appears to be top of mind at Tesla. It remains to be seen how noise is a problem in an electric car but it seems to be an issue Tesla believes needs slaying.

Just looking at the patent as a layman, one has to wonder what will keep the bladders from leaking from any number of scenarios that would introduce a sharp object into the vehicle. The patent leaves many questions unanswered such as the types of fluid used and the exact method of distribution of those fluids. Also unclear is whether tubing or chambered bladders will carry the as-yet-undisclosed type of fluid.

It should be noted that vehicle manufacturers apply for hundreds of patents every year for technology that never sees the passenger compartment. In this case though, with heated seats becoming a more sought after option for the overly-chilled backsides of millions of people, it makes sense that Tesla is going to great lengths to run innovative systems with a minimal power drain allowing more performance from the drivetrain.

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John Elkin
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