Byline: Bill Moore
I hold in my hand a small lump of rock with a green, crystalline tint. It was given to me years ago by the former CEO of Nemaska Lithium, Guy Bourassa. He had flown me to Toronto for the annual mining conference and then to Montreal to give a talk before a small group of potential investors, some of whom were from China and interested in processing the lithium found in the company's Whabouchi mine project in Quebec. What I held was a chip from one of its many sample drilling cores.
After that trip, we gradually lost touch, though I'd occasionally find an press release pop up in my email inbox. It was the announcement this week that Ford Motor Company has contracted with Nemaska for 17,000 tons of lithium hydroxide annually that spurred me to pull that chunk of greenish rock out of my desk draw and search the 'Net for Guy's name, which I had subsequently forgotten.
According to a 2020 article on Mining.com, Guy was forced out of the company, which was then deeply in debt and going through a restructuring "under the supervision of the Superior Court of Quebec and PricewaterhouseCoopers, as monitor of its business and financial affairs". The Nemaska Lithium website lists a management team, most of whom came on board in 2020 when it was acquired by the Pallinghurst Group and Livent. In the intervening years, the company proceeded to develop the Whabouchi mine and its Becancour processing plant on which Nemaska began clearing land in January of this year. Presumably, while the plant is under construction, and according to their press release, the company will supply unprocessed spodumene (the green crystalline material in the above stone).
Like the tiny lump of reddish clay from the original Chevrolet Volt concept model and the sample Volt battery pouch on top of my bookshelf, holding that bit of rock reminds me of the privilege Ive had to be a part of the transition to an EV world. Here's wishing Nemaska and Ford both much success. It's been a long time coming.
And Guy, thank you for your vision and letting me share in your journey, if only briefly!
First Published: 2023-05-23
Byline: Bill Moore
Back a year ago, EV World© relaunched with a new platform and mission: curate technical, political and social developments in the world of electric vehicles on a global basis: at least whose we could find on English language platforms on the Internet. These currently include established publications like the New York Times, The Guardian, Washington Post, The Sun, Fox News, Forbes, Khaleejtimes, Car&Driver, Belfast Live, Montreal Gazette, Economist, 24/7 Wallstreet, Aljazeera, All Africa, Livemint, Bloomberg, Motley Fool, AP News…well over 900, likely more! Additionally, a sizable number of automotive and electric vehicle-specific websites also contribute to the daily flood of scores of reports: Electrek, Greencar Reports, Teslarati, Motor1, just to mention a few. It's a tedious but edifying process that takes me, personally, many hours every day, seven days a week for the last year. At this writing there are some 35,000 entries in the RSS database since its creation late last April 2022, and from which the numbers behind the charts are generated.
Because I am the one cataloging all the stories I curate, there is some obvious subjectivity to the selection process. First off, I curate as many stories as I can find, typically anywhere from 50 or so daily and frequently two and three times that number. The stories tend to not only be focused on electric mobility of pretty much any shape and size: e-bikes and tuktuks; light cars and heavy trucks; ferries and motorboats; electric passenger aircraft and evolving VTOLs; even the amazing, solar-powered Ingenuity helicopter on Mars gets a link. BTW, it just completed its 50th flight on the Red Planet. Besides the technology, I look for stories about the politics the drives debate around the technology, securing needed minerals, tax policy, financial incentives, environmental conerns over climate change, sealevel rise, energy production, battery recycling, urban planning.
Categorizing stories can be challenging. A reference to production at Tesla's Berlin Gigafactory seems straight-forward. Region: Europe; sector impacted: Commercial; category: Finance...OR should it be "Mobility"? If financial numbers are mentioned, I usually choose "financial", but if government permitting issues are raised, it goes under "Policy" and it the story references something like "gigapress" it might fall under the "Mobility" classification.
I should hasten to note that because some automakers produce several different brands - General Motors and China's SAIC, for example - those firm's sub-brands may not appear in the statistics behind the chart. If the headline doesn't also include "GM" in a story about the Chevy Bolt, that story will NOT be included in the statistics that drive the North American OEM chart. I wlll have to create a separate chart to catch those trends: "Citations About GM Sub-Brands" - Chevy, Cadillac, Buick, GMC (Hummer), etc.
Now that Trending is up and running with seven different bar charts, I hope that you, dear reader, will find them of interest. They seem to reveal trends I - and quite possibly you - may have long suspected. I'll look for other opportunities to mine the growing lode of information stored in EVWorld's database and share them with you. Thanks for reading along... and please think about becoming a Patreon supporter.
First Published: 2022-04-15
Byline: Bill Moore
My wife, who is always ready to not have to cook on the weekend, suggested we dine out at Lil' Burro, our favorite Tex-Mex restaurant, a short drive east on Capehart Road. Our timing was perfect as we arrived moments before the lobby jammed with other parties inspired by the same notion and the good food that comes out of the kitchen.
We've known the owner for years and despite it being a busy Saturday night, he took time to stop by and chat, starting with asking me about my experiences with aquaponics. For some three years, I'd run a small basement system, raising lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, even a largely abortive experiment with strawberries, all grown under grow lights. The fish of choice was largemouth bass, acquired as fingerlings. Their waste provided the nutrients for the vegetables, which, in turn, cleaned up the water that was recycled back into the fish tank, a 100 gallon livestock tank.
It was a fun experience, but in the end, I concluded it needed to be outdoors in a greenhouse-type setup. The owner was interested because he wanted to find a way to sustainably source his produce…and tilapia…locally, instead of depending on it coming from California, Arizona and Mexico.
That, of course, led to a conversation about electric vehicles and his skepticism about their practicality and costs (he's also a car collectors with the penchant for old Volvos), especially the expanding bans on the sale of internal combustion engines spreading steadily - if somewhat in fits and starts - around the globe. He also wondered about all the diesel-burning, giant mine trucks needed to haul lithium: the same trucks used to mine copper and tar sands, I might add. But mainly, he didn't think it far to make everyone give up their fossil fuel cars and trucks for expensive electric ones. How will the poor afford them, he asked?
At the time, I was not aware of "Wright's Law" . That revelation would come the next day! Instead, I asked him what a cellphone cost originally or a flat-screen television set when they first came out. He guessed maybe a $1000. Of course they cost much more than that. In 1999, the first flat-screen TV cost $8K, equivalent in today's dollars to $11,186! The first cellphone came out around 1980. They cost $3995. In 2023 dollars that's $14,585.00!
Now cellphones still can cost close to $1000, but they are infinitely more capable than their 1980 ancestors. The same is true of a modern flat-screen TV and they don't cost more than $14K! Why? Because of Wright's Law, which Clean Technica defines thus: "Wright's Law states that the price of production for a given product will go down a fixed amount...every time the cumulative number of units doubles."
It is Wright's Law that has the likes of GM, Ford, Volkswagen, and others scrambling for their lives, because not only is Tesla a decade ahead of them technologically (just watch some of Sandy Munro's Live shows on Youtube, "boys and girls"), as well as in terms of production costs and profit margins. The Chinese aren't that far behind and like the Japanese and South Koreans before them, they will eventually establish "beachheads" in the USA, likely through US-sited factories for batteries and cars (again listen to Sandy Munro's warnings) as a result of Joe Biden's onshoring policies.
Now, we know VW is planning to introduce a $25K EV… as, presumably, is Tesla, and we'll likely see similar offerings from others. Of course, the more EVs that get built, but more raw materials are needed and we still haven't really addressed traffic congestion or the consequences of a system too dependent on private automobile ownership. Frankly, not everyone needs to own a car for both economic and health reasons: the Dutch and the Danes demonstrate that. With better, safer bike lanes, a lot of people would willingly abandon the expense of owning and operating a personal car, gas or electric. But it seems the "Grand Oil Party" is dead opposed to encouraging that avenue to sustainability, Republican Senator Mitt Romney calling cycling advocates' efforts to replace car lanes with bike lanes, "the height of stupidity." He similarly opposes a Democratic Party bill to subsidize the sale of electric-assist bicycles, saying those who can't afford cars should take mass transit." Easy for a multi-millionaire to say!
My point is that between Wright's Law and the encouragement and development of micro-mobility systems - including dedicated bike lanes and even Indian-style motorcycle taxis - along with autonomous shuttles … the "poor" won't be left behind in the transition to a world where "all cars are green, bicycles rule and public transit is fast, frequent and fun."
First Published: 2022-04-03
Byline: Bill Moore
Now that's a click-worthy headline that immediately grabbed my attention early this morning! Wow! A few gallons of water could power my suburban home for days? Amazing. Sign me up!
Well...not really. Not yet. Not if you apply a bit of math (again) to the question, which, of course, I had to. The story attached to that headline references a Germany startup called Enapter, which is offering a residential scale electrolyzer to split hydrogen and oxygen, the two atomic elements of common water (H20), a process that has been known since 1789. When you apply a current to water, it "boils" off hydrogen and oxygen, the former that can be used similar to how we now use natural gas or methane (CH4). You can burn it in a water heater, gas stove, furnace. Car makers continue to experiment with it in fuel cells and even internal combustion engines.
All those are doable and releases zero carbon, unlike natural gas. What the Brighterside article fails to mention is the amount of energy (electricity) it takes to run the electrolyzer. The company's data sheet indicates "Nominal power consumption per Nm3 of H2 produced 4.8 kWh/Nm3, beginning of life.
Now how much hydrogen is Nm3? Google reveals it equals one cubic foot of gas compressed to 35 bar (507 psi). The Enapter unit consumers 4.8 kWh of electricity at 220/240V to generate that much hydrogen gas. What can you do with that hydrogen? Let's assume you heat water. The amount of energy consumed depends on the size of the heater and amount of water used. This is usually measured in "therms." One therm equals 2.83 cubic meters (2.83 Nm3) of gas. The typical American home purportedly uses 20-50 therms per month to heat water. Assuming an average of 35 therms/month to heat water only, the numbers work out to be: 4.8kWh x 2.83 x 35 = 475 kWh. The average American home uses a reported 30 kWh a day or 900 kWh a month, on average. So, just generating enough hydrogen to run the water heater will use more than half the electricity consumed by the "average household.
Curiously, Enapter's co-founder grew up on New Caledonia in the South Pacific. She explained "I wanted to replace all the diesel generators in New Caledonia and all the remote areas that didn't need to rely on dirty diesel. That's a laudable goal, for sure, especially on an island where 90% of the electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels. Effectively, an Enapter electrolyzer would have to use oil-generated electricity to create its hydrogen, with all the attendant efficiency losses.
It seems to me that there are two better approaches, at least to heat water: solar thermal and bio-digestion. The former uses sunlight directly to heat water. This is how millions of people in Asia heat water. I once visited a remote farm in China near the Great Wall. They had a simple, lost-cost solar thermal system to heat water, as did many of the homes we passed on our drive up from Beijing.
The second way - although admittedly a more regulatory-restrictive approach - would be to use a bio-digester to take that toilet water (fecal matter included) and let bacteria break it down into methane (natural gas). Such bio-digesters are can be found in rural areas of the developing world. It's used primarily for cooking. Cattle and hog operations in Europe and America use it to generate power and convert their livestock solids into sanitary and useful products like seedling cups for gardeners.
This is not to knock the idea or the product, but economics also need to be considered. Can some or all of that electricity come from renewable source? Certainly, but again, is that the best use of those electrons? If we want "green hydrogen", the ideal way would be finding a way to do it without the consumption of significant amounts of electricity, from whatever source: gray, blue or green. Work is being done in that promising area including solar catalysts and even types of soil bacteria.
Here are just 4 of the 663 current references to hydrogen in EVWorld.com's RSStream database.
Climate change: Hydrogen isn't the cleanest way to heat our homes
Is hydrogen really a clean enough fuel to tackle the climate crisis?
We need new tech like this to understand hydrogen's climate impact
Green hydrogen produced with near 100% efficiency using seawater
First Published: 2022-03-19
Byline: Bill Moore
Short answer: NO! That's been the responsibility of the Consumer Product Safety Commission for the past two decades and more.
This "rant" was prompted by an article in the far right-wing - "covering the enemies of freedom the way the mainstream media won't" - Washington Free Beacon whose headline read, "Another Buttigieg Scandal: Electric Bikes Keep Exploding on His Watch". For a publication supposedly published in the belly of the beast itself, you'd think they'd understand who in the federal government is responsible for consumer products like bicycles. A simple Google search for the role of the CSPC clearly states, " The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) protects the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under its jurisdiction, including products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children." That includes bicycles.
Last November (2022) the Commission issued an advisory on e-bikes, e-scooters (electric kickscooter) and hover boards regarding the possible danger of battery fires.You can read their recommendations here: recommendations that have been largely echoed by Consumer Reports and others.
I have owned electric bikes for more than two decades. I currently have several parked in my garage and one sits a few feet from my desk. I have never had an issue with their batteries, other than the expected gradual loss of range over time. I seldom charge them overnight and never leave them plugged into the charger, which I periodically check to make sure none of them are overheating.
So, why do I own four e-bikes? Two of them were acquired through advertising barter with the manufacturer: the oldest is 20 years old, the newest - and my current rider - is maybe 5. One is the original test bike for our Quikbyke rental venture, which sadly stalled through a combination of management disputes, an untimely death, and Covid-19. The fourth was an experiment in Kickstarter, which I billed at the time as world's lightest electric assist bicycle at under 16kg.
What has Transportation Secretary Buttigieg to do with those "electric bike and scooter batteries caused 216 fires that injured 147 people and killed six in New York City alone"? The Beacon adding that "[S]o far this year, the batteries have been blamed for 22 fires resulting in 36 injuries and two deaths in New York City." Apparently the Secretary bought an e-bike when he moved to Washington, D.C. and while the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, he encouraged Lime Bikes to offer shared bike rentals in town. They have since ceased operations in that and some 11 other city markets. The reason? Capitalism - not socialism - at work, apparently.
To quote the Beacon, "This is also another scandal that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has failed to address since taking office."
Really? It's NOT the province of DOT to regulate bicycles, folks! Planes, trains and automobiles, yes! Bicycle, scooters, and hoverboads, categorically NO!
Do foreign (read cheap Asian) lithium-ion batteries and chargers need to be better regulated? Absolutely. That's why we have the CPSC - which, incidentally, is NOT under the purview of any Executive Office department. It is a separate public commission...and as noted above, they are very cognizant of the issue, as is the private Underwriters Lab (UL), who is taking a lead role in the technical evaluation and certification of e-bike batteries from established manufacturers like Panasonic and Samsung SDI, the latter which powers my Quikbykes. Controlling, much less stopping the importation of cheap batteries and chargers from Asia, in particular, is a daunting challenge. Counterfeiting of even common household AA and AAA batteries is problem.
So, word to the wise, buying a cheap e-bike or e-scooter opens you up to the very real and unpredictable risk of a runaway "thermal" event that can and does have disastrous, something deadly consequences. But until Congress decides to call bicycles "cars," don't expect DOT or Pete Buttigieg to take a serious regulatory interest in the problem. He's got much bigger problems to handle, like runway incursions and greedy railroads.
First Published: 2023-03-12
My views are my own... but I can be persuaded by the facts
Become a patron and help spread the good news of the world of electric vehicles.
Not yet ready for primetime.